No sight, only sounds

Try being blindfolded in a room full of people. Your ears will jump from one conversation to the next to try to figure out where you are and what’s going on. Put this under “overwhelming”. You might start associating the people around you by attaching them to their scent. Put this under “enticing”. Throw some music in the mix and you might forget you’re sitting beside the stranger who smells like glue because it feels like it’s just you, the music, and the darkness.

Musicians@Ryerson hosted their second “Darkness Concert” where the audience was blindfolded outside the doors of the dimly lit venue on the second floor of the Roger’s Communication Centre and ushered inside with the help of volunteers. The concert, in collaboration with the Chinese Students’ Association and Poetic Exchange, donated its proceeds to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

Featuring artists who dabbled in styles from indie to folk rock to funk, your mind ran off to wherever the music went. With new student group Poetic Exchange involved this year, spoken word around the theme of blindness filled spaces between the musician’s acts. Put this under “vibrant”.

Victor Copetti, president of Musicians@Ryerson said, when one sense is lost, the other senses are heightened so the point of the concert is to experience everything through sharp hearing. The stage was set at the front but instruments like shakers could occasionally be traced to the back of the room, making ears jump to all corners of the room.

Performers included Maricris Riviera, The Blue Strays, The Lifers and Little Boxer. Riviera, the performance coordinator of Musicians@Ryerson performed with Copetti.  She said playing in front of the audience was like no other experience. “It was weird because I’m used to playing off the audiences reaction—making eye contact, smiling, see if they’re really enjoying it. It was totally different, you have to trust the audience likes what you’re doing,” she said.

The Lifers, a duo of sisters, played guitar, glockenspiels, ukulele, shakers and accordion. Performing original songs like Home for the Weekend, their strong vocals and harmonies sent chills into the audience that sat unmoving.

Copetti said the audience barely nodded heads or moved during the performances, which was unlike any audience you would expect at a concert. He said, “The applause after each act was so alive so you know they were engaged even when they ware so still. They were really taking the music in.”

The Blue Strays, a folk rock band introduced their song Streetlight Baby with the strum of the guitar and a whisper from the audience is heard, “Oh you already know this is going to be a sexy one.”

James Abruzatto, who was sitting in the audience, said he wasn’t sure if having to wear the blindfold would put him to sleep but said all the performers brought something new to the table keeping him engaged. “Livin’ the vida broke-a struggle, its great because you’re only paying five bucks and it goes to a great cause,” he said.

Lisa Derencinovic, guest speaker and Ryerson alumni accepted the donation on behalf of the institution and shared why CNIB mattered to her as a woman with visual impairment especially when she began studying here. She said with CNIB she would come weeks before classes started to get an idea of how to get from one class to the next. She also said she was able to access a library of books in audio and braille.

The concert was able to raise around $270 and Musicians@Ryerson plans to host the event again next year probably at a less busy time of the year, says Copetti.

[P]hoto: MorgueFile