Something Different: Nat Evans and The Blue Hour


I recently became familiarized with an ongoing music event put together by Seattle composer Nat Evans called The Blue Hour.  It fuses pre-recorded music to be listened to in a live public setting in cohesion with specific times of the day.  My guess is I’d do a much better job describing this whole thing if I were to actually experience it live, but I’m gonna do my best to cobble together what I’ve learned through websites and a couple email exchanges with Nat.  I’m always a sucker for experimentation with music, both as contained in the notes themselves, but also the concept of music, the way we view it, and the connections we make with it.  So mostly I wanted to help get this event in the spotlight, because, well, it just seems like a cool event and deserves it.

Here’s an intro paragraph from Nat Evans site…

Seattle composer Nat Evans will be presenting an original, site-specific music event that fuses nature, music, community, and subjectivity of experience, which will take place just after sunset on April 26th in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Participants will download the music onto their iPods or other portable listening device ahead of time and arrive at the corner of Old Fulton and Water St (across the street from Pete’s downtown restaurant) by 7:40pm. Participants will then walk into the park together, and just after sunset the cue will be given to press play and participants will sit back and observe while listening.

It’s being commissioned by the Private Works Music Festival, which will be held at The Hartt School on April 28th.

It’s a touring event, too, and here’s the upcoming schedule…

April 26 – Brooklyn – Brooklyn Bridge Park
April 28 – Hartford – The Hartt School, Private Works Festival
July 28 – Seattle – Greenlake
August 4th – Portland – Mt Tabor Park
September 22nd – Indianapolis – Big Car

In addition, this isn’t his first go-around with this concept, having done a tour back in 2010 that involved music coordinated with the sunrise, a tour in 2011 that fused music with the sunset, and now the current tour, which as well, including a stop in Louisville, KY.

I asked him what his endgame was on this concept, what he hoped to accomplish.  This was his answer…

What I hope to do with these events is to create a greater sense of community by giving folks a new lens to see every-day occurrences through, thus experimenting and hopefully bolstering a sense of place and also providing a different context for the sense of space. When we enter the concert hall to listen to any kind of music – not just experimental or New Music like I do – there are lots of social mores and patterns of attachment. However, with this new context I hope people will see things differently and listen to the music in new ways. These events have also brought out lots of people who would never attend a new music/experimental concert, which is exciting and encouraging.

Here’s a link to Nat Evan’s site, where you can learn more about the project and events and more.

Here’s the track to download (or, if you aren’t able to attend, you can just listen here)…

Like I said in the opening, events like this are always fun and often revelatory.  Because, ultimately, no matter what the ideas and motivations may be in the event’s conception, music in a live setting can affect all of us in a profound way, both individually and in how we connect with those around as we, in turn, connect with the music.  Taking advantage of events like this should pretty much be an imperative for all of us, enriching our lives through music as important as filling our bellies with food and water.

Plus, it’s something different.  And in a society that often favors standardization and mass production, it’s important to be reminded how inspiring our unique qualities and facets truly are, to each other and to us individually.