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Accidental Music Festival

In its second year, local fest shortens its span, broadens its scope

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Unlike the serendipitous circumstances of its noteworthy debut last year, the Accidental Music Festival returns in 2012 as something much more deliberate. Though the festival is rooted in modern classical music and continues to usher high-level, erudite music out of its cloisters, into the bright light of broader relevance, and to a wider audience, this year the progressive-minded event is all about the now, emphasizing new music by living composers across a wider spectrum of genres.

"I do think listening to contemporary music is an important part of the possibilities of a person's life," says founder and music educator Christopher Belt. "I think engaging with music is one of the most sacred and overwhelming and intellectually and emotionally stimulating things that a person can do."

Besides greater advance funding through grants and sponsorships (particularly from the Bryce L. West Foundation) and ticketing through Red Chair Project (redchairproject.com), the biggest difference this year is the programming itself. For instance, the sprawling, 10-day debut shrinks to a compact four-day affair. But what it relinquishes in duration, it compensates for in marquee talent with major headliners like the entire professional symphonic orchestra of the University of Guanajuato (Mexico) and avant-garde rockers Deerhoof.

"We're bringing a huge ensemble, where last year we didn't have anything bigger than a 15-piece chamber ensemble," says Belt. "This year we're bringing 90 people from Mexico, and a trio of soloists from Germany will play with them so it's much more international. And then, trying to bring in a big headlining act in Deerhoof."

Belt says the intriguing move to add an indie-rock night is to expand the potential audience, and that more future cross-pollination opportunities are definitely possible. Besides, he says, "Fun, I think, is an important part of a festival, so it can't be all like, 'We're going to present all masterworks – it's going to be all fire and brimstone or all existential crisis.' … You have to have some fun. And I think what Deerhoof does is amazing because if you listen to the complexity within a couple of measures of their music and how drastic the texture and harmonies change in that music, you recognize that there's a really sophisticated musical mind at work that's having fun."

Additionally, a somewhat secretive Corridor Project production will be unveiled to pre-game the Deerhoof bill (Nov. 9), one that's had local art scene insiders abuzz for weeks now. The project is a collaborative expansion of the Flaming Lips-esque parking lot experiment that debuted September at the Tiny Waves anniversary party (This Little Underground, Oct. 10). Transforming part of the Plaza Live's parking lot into a temporary stage set, this performance will feature music composed by Steve Head and the Tiny Waves collective, interpretative performance by Voci Dance and, probably, audience participation. Beginning at 7 p.m. and lasting less than 10 minutes, this special event is what Belt is calling a "not-to-be-missed, never-to-be-repeated spectacle."

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