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Accidental Music Festival

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

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Of the guiding principles of his festival programming, he says, "The whole point of the festival is to try and present new music, living composers, challenging music that doesn't normally get programmed, small ensembles – things that are going to reach a generally younger classical music audience, a newer classical music audience, and also that kind of crosses over and reaches people that are into free improvisation and avant-garde music, just things that don't have a huge market but might have some overlap between audiences."

Like the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, both of which are opening smaller venues to appeal to new audiences, the Accidental Music Festival is targeting a younger crowd rather than the established previous year's audience. "They want to target a smaller group for each of those performances, present new music that's engaging," he says. "And that's what Orlando needs. And that's the niche that I'm seeking to fill. The other organizations that are here do amazing things that I can't possibly do.

But what I can do is try to present something like this and hopefully grow it over the next five years. And I think the educational stuff is a really important component of that because, if you take a long-term view, we should be teaching high-school kids about free improvisation as much as we teach them about orchestral literature or band literature. It's just as important."

For the sake of the city's music scene, Belt says he hopes to continue growing his ambitious upstart festival. "Last year, it was the toe in the water," he says. "This year, it's a cannonball, I'm hoping. I know that there's a role to be filled, and I think that's in presenting challenging music, uncompromising music of high artistic quality. It doesn't mean that it's out of people's reach, it just means that it might be intellectual, it might be dark or more powerful music. … I want to foster opportunities for local musicians and touring musicians to have a place that they can come and play and know that there is an audience of people that are interested in that experience of hearing something new, hearing something for the first time, hearing something that they might not like but wanting to hear something because it's fun."

It bodes well for the festival's future that Belt's crusade is as common-sense as it is noble. "You have to build the audience, you have to engage people where they are," he says. "And don't assume that people aren't going to get it."

A Happy Accident: Festival Events and Info

Thursday, Nov. 8
Hippocrene Saxophone Quartet Performing the music of Stella Sung, David Asher Brown, Morton Subotnick, Lansing McLoskey. 7:30 p.m., Urban Rethink, 625 E. Central Blvd., 407-704-6895, $7

Friday, Nov. 9
Deerhoof with Levek and Telethon. 7 p.m., Plaza Live Theater, 425 N. Bumby Ave., 407-228-1220, $15

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