‘Without new music, there is no music,’ or so the unofficial motto of the upcoming Accidental Music Festival goes. In a day and age where new-wave composers struggle to find a home for their music and support for unorthodox musical styles is far from being any city council’s top priority, especially Orlando’s, it is commendable to see initiative being taken toward the fostering of daring new music. This is happening here and now and the product of this local endeavor will be presented in a 10-day festival, free of charge to spectators, from September 4 through 13, cunningly named the Accidental Music Festival.
The festival seeks to stir a sense of appreciation for contemporary avant-garde music that neither fits into the standard ‘classical’ nor ‘popular’ classifications, but that rather presents something new and original, treading on unexplored grounds and opening doors for the future of new music in our community. ‘Orlando is getting to be really interesting culturally, but is still somewhat crippled in terms of the infrastructure for supporting artists, including musicians,’ comments curator and principal fundraiser Chris Belt, a recent graduate in guitar performance and conducting from the University of Central Florida, who has undertaken the challenging task of bringing to fruition this project.
Belt maintains that, given we already have a major classical music ensemble and similar artistic organizations in Orlando, what is needed is small venues that can present new music. The main venue for the festival’s activities and performances will be Urban Rethink, accommodations for which have been made by festival co-curator Pat Greene. In addition, the Timucua house will hold at least two events — including the kick-off concert on September 4 that will feature flautist/ composer Emily Hay — providing musicians and audience members with an intimate atmosphere.
Support for this audacious project came from over 130 private donors who got in touch with the fundraisers and contributed through Kickstarter, an online pledge system designed to enable the funding for special projects. Both the Urban Rethink Foundation and the Timucua Arts Foundation have also been essential in the plan, as their support and venue accommodation will ultimately make things happen. Belt also hints at the possibility of repeating this festival next year and establishing a successful precedent in hopes of qualifying for grants from major sources in Orlando itself, whose help was not sought this time.
The fact that about $7000 were raised for the Accidental Music Festival in 34 days attests to the enthusiasm and support that there is, even in a city where unconventional art music is not a major trend among the masses. ‘We need classical musicians who are passionate about sharing music with new audiences. That’s why I started organizing this festival – to connect the musicians willing to take risks with the audiences willing to support them,’ offers Belt, an advocate of new music with a strong grasp of the current situation in Orlando, and with the spirit to do something about it and to ultimately promote the arts in our city.
Perhaps oddly, in our area there is a scattered niche for this type of activity in avant-garde music, most of whom are either unaware of each other or in very small dissipated groups. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet and social media, word spreads fast and in most cases with little need of word-of-mouth or human interaction. Whether the latter is a good thing is debatable, but at least awareness has been raised and, most importantly for the realization of the project, the funds. We will all come together when the music starts playing.
To visit the official Kickstarter Web site for the Accidental Music Festival, featuring an introductory video and a calendar of events, featuring concerts, discussions and workshops, click here.
To visit the Web site for Urban Rethink, click here.
To visit the Web site for the Timucua Arts Foundation, click here.
To visit flautist, pianist, vocalist and composer Emily Hay’s Web site, click here.