NiteTalk: Knight VP Dennis Scholl Hints at a Very Massive Random Act

Dennis Scholl R
Photo Courtesy Knight Foundation

It’s happened in Biloxi (where the Sixth Floor Trio wowed the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art); it’s gone down in Detroit (with a 150-person performance of “Ode to Joy”). It’s swung San Jose (a 250-person surprise performance at the Target Pops Summer Fest), and it’s delighted Philly (the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s impromptu at IKEA). In fact, it’s happened 1000 times. It is the Knight Foundation’s Random Acts of Culture, a kinda nationwide nod to a more spiritual flash mob. This Saturday, September 1st, the action takes place on Lincoln Road, and it’ll be backed by the Arsht and involve a cast of hundreds. Knight VP of Arts Dennis Scholl explains.

Just what is a random acts of culture? A random act of culture is a surprise performance of a well known classical work. It can be opera in the shopping mall, ballet in the airport concourse or gospel in the farmers market. It is unannounced and the professional artists suddenly appear, perform and then disappear.

Who all is in on bringing the bright idea to life? This is a project of the Knight Foundation that started a couple years ago. We've just completed our goal of 1000 random acts in eight cities across America, including of course Miami. Our partner here has been the Arsht Center, and they have invited singers from the Florida Grand Opera, musicians from the Miami Music Project and many other local performing arts organizations to join in.

Care to cite a few prior Random Acts? One of my favorite RACs took place in Miami where seven singers from the opera performed in the Dadeland Macy's shoe department on a Saturday during a shoe sale. We stopped traffic six times that day!

The performance that drew the attention of CNN and the Big Three networks took place in Downtown Philadelphia. Our partners at the Opera Company of Philadelphia invited 600 choral singers to come to the Wanamaker building, which is now a Macy's, and at the stroke of noon, the singers performed the "Hallelujah" chorus accompanied by the largest pipe organ in the world. That RAC has close to eight million YouTube views.

What’s on tap for this next go ‘round? On September 1st we are going to celebrate our 1000 Random Acts of Culture with a surprise performance on Lincoln Road. I don't want to give too much away, but if you are on Lincoln Road on the 1st in the early evening, you just might encounter over 200 performers from all kinds of artistic disciplines.

The next Random Act of Culture takes place during the evening of Saturday, September 1 on Lincoln Road. Participants include the Miami Music Project, the Frost School of Music, the Miami Mass Choir and Master Chorale, the Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban Dance Company and the the 2012 Ailey Camp and the Edwin Holland Dance Ensemble.

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