They say if you take away one of your senses that you will be able to pay more attention to the ones that have been left undisturbed. Activities like blind dining and silent discos have become increasingly popular all over the world because they help create experiences that allow those who attend to be more present and in-the-moment than they would be without these restrictions. Classical composer and entrepreneur Murray Hidary understands the value of inhaling as hard as possible when you are stopping to smell the roses, and that is exactly what inspired him to create his one-of-a-kind “MindTravel: SilentWalk” performance, premiering tonight in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Hidary created his “MindTravel” events back in 2014 as a way of taking music out of stuffy concert halls and into nature so that the audience can use it to connect with their surroundings on a deeper level. For this event, audience members are given wireless headphones at the Cherry Esplanade and will listen to a curated series of Hidary’s original compositions. With no speaking allowed, the audience will be guided on a meditative walk through the Rose Garden into the Japanese Garden by Hidary, where they will find the composer sitting at a grand piano set up on the island in the center of the garden.
“The intention behind all of the formats that I do is always really to create the space through these different MindTravel experiences for people to drop in deeply and connect internally and with each other,” explains Hidary. “The main purpose for doing it with the headphones is that you can have this very intimate, individual experience and then as we transition to the live part, that’s also going to be in headphones because the acoustics in any outdoor venue are never great, so it’s more the visual of the grand piano. Then you’ll be able to continue walking the path around the lake in the loop and the reception of the headphones will reach the entire lake.”
After Hidary has shown the audience the possibility of using music to create a connective and therapeutic experience, they will be free to engage with his performance however they wish for the rest of the night. According to the composer, this kind of active and rejuvenating experience is what he had envisioned after starting his first MindTravel events five years ago.
“For me, I love doing concerts in beautiful and acoustically great theaters,” says Hidary. “But there is a limit to it. When I do theaters — and I do them frequently — there I can really transport people because you can control every element from lighting to acoustics and everything. But the real impetus for doing it this way was, I wanted to connect the participants with nature. That’s where the idea for the headphones really came from. In order to give people a really great acoustic experience, I really wanted them to feel surrounded. Having an acoustic instrument in an outdoor setting never sounds great, even if you amplify it. There’s nothing to hold or contain the sound and make it feel intimate. The first one was walking the beach in Santa Monica, that iconic spot. I just had this visual of hundreds of people on the beach listening live. If you have a big rock band, you can overwhelm the audience with sound through amplification, but the subtlety of piano is much harder to convey in that setting. So I visualized in my mind the whole audience wearing headphones.”
Hidary’s “SilentWalk” and “SilentHike” tour will be hitting 20 different cities this summer. Make sure to check it out tonight at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
“The Botanic Garden has always been a very special place for me throughout the years,” says Hidary of tonight’s performance. “So, I’m really delighted to bring this experience there on such a deep level.”
Brooklyn Botanic Garden; two performances, 5:30 p.m. & 6:45 p.m. (pick up headsets on Cherry Esplanade); free with Garden admission.