Curating Sonic Connection with Telemetry & The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative
Maybe you didn’t know what to expect, but suddenly you’ve found the beeps, boops, sizzles, and strums you’ve been missing all along. Rowdy drum machines, modified classical instruments, contact mics on hot dogs, masked synth performers--you’ve stumbled across Telemetry, a highly creative collaboration between UVA’s McIntire Department of Music and the progressive community nonprofit arts institution, The Bridge.
Telemetry is a monthly series that brings together experimental musicians from UVA with those from the Charlottesville community in addition to inviting touring musicians to come in, connect, and create. “Telemetry’s focus,” said organizer and founder Travis Thatcher, “is largely electronic and experimental music, and can both surprise and attract passersby.” The peculiar performances can be seen through The Bridge’s large street-facing windows. “We definitely get some weird looks depending on what we are doing. But two out of five people are like ‘Whoa, what is this? I want to stick around!’”
“The Bridge is a vibrant place, and a tremendous resource for this community,” Thatcher said. “I have always loved the venue as a musician, and had been involved in it peripherally.” He has since joined the programming committee of The Bridge, but initially connected with the organization by attending performances and playing music there himself. He saw its great potential as a sort of incubator of talent and inspiration based on his previous musical experiences in Chicago and Atlanta. “One thing I noticed here was that there was a community of musicians at the University and a separate community of musicians and performers in town, and there was not enough interplay between the two. The whole idea behind Telemetry is in line with the mission of The Bridge, to connect people through art, and in this case, we’re bridging the UVA community with local and out of town artists.”
Each show features a UVA artist, a community artist, and someone from out of town. Another important goal of the show is to help musicians expand their own communities and stretch their creative boundaries by connecting with new colleagues. “When I was in Atlanta, I watched a lot of artists at experimental open-mic events come together and form a really vibrant scene. Some even went on to form projects that became internationally known. I really wanted to create a version of that here--to bring people together who otherwise may never have met before. That really inspired me.”
This endeavor is strongly supported by the Vice Provost for the Arts and UVA Arts, who continue to ensure that the shows are free and open to the public. “We are so grateful for that support,” Thatcher said, “and for the ability it gives us to bring meaningful art into the community and share it with so many people.”