Classic Meets Contemporary


Flower crowns, body paint, and large crowds are all things people think of when they hear “music festival.” As for the upcoming INfusion Music Fest, hosted by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO), think more along the lines of violins, piano and environmental conservation.

April 28 marks the beginning of the first INfusion Music Fest, which the ISO wants to focus on “the connections between music and the environment.” Throughout the three day event, taking place in the Hilbert Circle Theatre festivalgoers can expect to see live music and take part in discussions focusing on issues such as deforestation and the economic benefits of going green.

“I’m not exactly sure how they came up with the environmental theme,” Lauren King, the communications manager for the ISO said. “When I joined the committee, the theme had pretty much been decided on, but I was super excited, because I’m all about going green.”

In order to promote their message of conservation, festivalgoers won’t find any concert schedules in a booklet. Instead, the ISO has decided to make the festival program completely digital to minimize their environmental impact.

A lot of the music being performed revolves around the environmental theme,” King explained. “Songs about the oceans, things like that,” she continued.

One group taking part in this weekend’s festivities is the Brooklyn-based eight piece band San Fermin. Bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone is excited to be a part of the culture that classical music brings to a community.

“Sometimes there’s a culture surrounding classical music that is maybe a little bit stodgy,” he wrote in an email. “So, it’s always nice to be part of an event that opens it up to a younger audience.”

And bringing classical music to a younger audience is something the ISO hopes to do.

We’ve been focusing on reaching out to young professional audiences through our FORTE program,” King explained. “It’ll be interesting to see classical music fans come out to the festival as well as the young professionals.”

“It’s funny, because a lot of the music we’re actually playing is contemporary music mixed with classical music,” King continued. “It’s not only bringing classical music into the realm for people who may not hear it regularly, but also that more modern contemporary sound as well.”

That mixture of contemporary and classical is what San Fermin is all about. Although the band incorporates violin and saxophone into their work, Ludwig-Leone doesn’t “have any agenda in that regard. I love classical music, and I love writing classical music,” Ludwig-Leone wrote. “But I also love pop music, and so that’s why both of those things are present in my work. But I’m not out to ‘save’ classical music or anything.”

While San Fermin is playing Saturday night at 8 p.m., festivalgoers should also look out for the other big names performing throughout the weekend, including artists-in-residence Time For Three, and headliners Kishi Bashi and Ben Folds.

“Actually Ben Folds, who is playing on the INfusion Music Fest with us, he was a huge inspiration for me growing up,” Ludwig-Leone wrote. “I played classical piano and then suddenly here’s this guy making the piano cool. As a freshman in high school I learned basically all the songs on Whatever and Ever, Amen and then started a band of my own. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing Ben’s concerto.”

The INfusion Music Fest, along with many events around Indianapolis, hopes to bring the community together. The festival is certainly a community effort. Organizations such as the Indianapolis Zoo and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful are all partnered with the festival to help festivalgoers go green.

It was just a matter of reaching out to different groups,” King explained. “They all were completely on board and excited about the theme.”

“Every festival we go to, it’s always really cool to see how involved the community gets,” Ludwig-Leone put in an email. “It cultivates a sense of pride in your city, which is a good thing, I think.”

While the ISO and their partners are preparing to put on a great festival and the performers are finishing up setlists, King has one major goal in mind.

“I hope that people take from it (the festival) not only that they’ve heard really good music, but that it makes them want to make an impact, both locally and globally.”

 

For more information on the INfusion Music Fest, visit: https://www.indianapolissymphony.org/season/infusion-music-festival