Blindfolded and guided to their seats, audience members at the third annual Darkness concert at Ryerson University experienced something they never had before — a show played completely in the dark.
Hosted by Musicians@Ryerson last Thursday, the show raises money and awareness for the visually impaired by providing the audience with the experience of listening to the show entirely devoid of sight.
“It definitely brings a lot of awareness,” said Maricris Rivera, the performance co-ordinator for the event. “It’s made me respect those who are blind and don’t have a choice … For them it’s not ‘walk out of the room, take off the blindfold and all of a sudden you can see again.’”
Musicians@Ryerson partnered with the Ryerson University Chinese Students Association (RUCSA) and Poetic Exchange for the event. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) was an affiliate. As part of the program, every year they bring in a guest speaker from the CNIB to talk about the experience of living with visual impairment.
Rivera sang and played piano alongside Musicians@Ryerson’s president, Victor Copetti, during the concert. The pair covered songs like Coldplay’s Viva la Vida, Bad Romance by Lady Gaga and Vienna by Billy Joel.
“I actually love being part of the audience with a blindfold on,” said Rivera. “Getting to experience other people’s music and the spoken word is so — is it weird to say eye-opening?”
“At the Darkness concert they (the audience) listen because that’s all they can (do),” Copetti added.
He said that at most concerts, people can become distracted. But at the Darkness concert, the lack of vision allows the audience to really concentrate on the performances.
“Everyone is blindfolded but the performers were not,” Copetti said. “It definitely adds a level of difficulty to our playing.”
Students from the Poet Exchange performed spoken word pieces between the acts. It was their second year taking part in the Darkness show. Copetti said that Darkness really presents a great platform to absorb spoken word. “It’s about the words and focusing on the sounds,” he said.
The concert provided insight on what someone who is visually impaired experiences on a daily basis.
“It shows how much we take sight for granted,” said Copetti.