ROSWELL, Ga. — In a new virtual music project, anyone can be a performer — and they’re encouraged to use forks and spoons as instruments, write their own lyrics and sing along to a droning electronic track.
Founded this summer by Roswell resident Nathan Hudson, the Forage & Flourish Community Music Project is a series of five videos, each featuring a newly commissioned musical work. The works have “open instrumentation,” which means they do not have set instrumental requirements and can include any number of performers. The project is funded by Fulton County and the Alpharetta Recreation, Parks & Cultural Services Department.
In each video, Hudson introduces and demonstrates the work, inviting community members to engage with the music by submitting their own video renditions. Three of the videos, featuring music written by Hudson, are already released on the project’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. The remaining two videos will feature commissions by composers Alex Temple and Kevin Day and should be posted in the upcoming weeks.
“The idea is that, as a community member with or without musical experience, you could watch the video, engage with it and be able to perform it just based on watching the video,” Hudson said.
Hudson grew up in the area and attended Milton High School. After leaving for college for several years and earning a doctorate degree in composition from Stony Brook University in New York, he returned to Fulton County last fall to teach and wanted to “engage this important community of [his] childhood with this new music excitement.”
He reached out to Kim Zane, Cultural Services manager for Alpharetta Recreation and Parks. Their discussions led to forming the Forage & Flourish Contemporary Music Festival, a weeklong educational program for Alpharetta, Roswell and Milton students which was scheduled for early June. The festival was canceled due to the pandemic.
“We wanted to continue the interest [in music] with teenagers and get them playing with people and with music,” Zane said.
Then, when Fulton County Arts & Culture announced its Virtual Arts Initiative Grant supporting nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists, Hudson decided to apply, with the support of Zane and the Alpharetta Recreation and Parks Department. Hudson received a $3,500 grant for the project, which he called a “natural extension” of the canceled festival.
The “Forage & Flourish” name is based on the idea that foraging evokes an image of drawing from one’s surroundings. In Hudson’s videos, he explores the idea of “found sounds,” or sounds created by objects not explicitly designed to be instruments — objects audience members already have at home, such as pots and pans. Using these objects and new ways of making music would allow participants to flourish musically, Hudson said.
Like the festival, the program’s educational focus remains strong. In addition to the video releases on Facebook and YouTube, Hudson’s videos will be incorporated into the music curriculum at Cambridge High School, where Hudson teaches, as well as Roswell and Milton High Schools.
“Fulton County’s creative community is vibrant, resilient and a cornerstone of our local economy,” Lionell Thomas, director of Fulton County Arts and Culture, said in a press release. Thomas said he was grateful for county support for the arts during the pandemic.
Zane added that the City of Alpharetta has adapted and continues to adapt its support for the arts to the changing pandemic situation.
“There are a lot of good solutions out there,” Zane said. “We just need to have the conversations to make them happen.”
The next video will feature a piece called “The Sun Will Shine Again.” Digital scores of the commissioned works are available for free in the comments section of each video.
The videos can be accessed at youtube.com/channel/UCZKkh6k-E3Zr_eOO6RXfYuA.