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Best of ATL Block Party: Meet Chris Childs

Artist preps orchestra, sans the tuxedos

To celebrate CL's annual Best of Atlanta issue, and our forthcoming Block Party, the Goat Farm Arts Center curated a physical manifestation of the best the city has to offer. The six chosen installations will imagine a future world based on plausible present technologies, ideas, or milieus. Expect an ambitious cyberpunk-inspired future Atlanta presented in way that has never been done before. The installations for BOA do not deal with the past, but rather what is on the horizon. We'll be posting interviews with the participating artists leading up to the event. Previous: Meet Second Story.
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? Finding a location for a 25-plus-person orchestra for a the year’s Best of Atlanta Block Party seems daunting. Standing atop the roof of Eyedrum around 9:30 p.m., musician Chris Childs Orchestra will be debuting “\ˈsīlən(t)s\.” a three movement work for chamber orchestra.
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? CL spoke to Childs, a conductor and director, about the process of orchestrating (pun intended) this group and how he might be hanging up his tuxedo forever.
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????  Please tell me your name and what your hood you're from.
? My name is Chris Childs and I lay my head in East Atlanta Village.
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? Tell me more about yourself — who are you and what do you all do?
? I am spinning a lot of plates these days. The big ones are Faun and a Pan Flute, Hello Ocho, and my own stuff like the Chris Childs Orchestra. All of that keeps me very busy, not to mention I still have to work day jobs/night jobs to stay afloat.
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? What is the title of your piece and please describe it.
? The piece is called "\ˈsīlən(t)s\." It is a three-movement work for chamber orchestra. The title is the link to what inspired me to write the music in the first place, and that was a piece of visual art by Brian Egan of the same title. Brian's piece was centered around these "poems" that were all written out phonetically, which I found visually captivating, and I thought it'd be fun to hear an operatic style vocalist singing these words. In the music, our soprano vocalist, Jeanette Simpson, will be singing those words. She doesn't appear often throughout the course of the music but when she does, the moment hits very hard.
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? How did South Broad Street inspire your concept?
? South Broad is a daily inspiration to me. Mammal Gallery and Broad Street Visitors Center exist, and that acts as a constant reminder that this larger community that I am a part of is truly leaving a mark in this city's timeline, and I'm proud and honored to have some sort of role in that.
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? Going off the loose theme of time — a future or passage of time from present toward the future — what does your installation have to do with the future of Atlanta?
? I hope that this performance is the first baby step taken towards being able to do this more often. I love the idea of Atlanta having an orchestra that plays for lots of people while not wearing tuxedos.
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?Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself? Anything in particular that was sparked working with this project?
? All of this is so new to me that I'm learning a lot along the way. I've never really been on the conductor/director side of things, but it is a role I feel very comfortable in. It's hard to pinpoint right now what exactly is being sparked during this whole process; I feel like that will become clearer as time continues moving forward, but for what it's worth, this feels significant. I suppose time will tell. 
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? CL's Best of Atlanta 2015 Block Party. Free. Fri., Sep. 25, from 6-11 p.m. South Broad Street, between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and and Mitchell Street.



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