Once upon a time there was a house in the forest, on the shore of a lake at the edge of a very creative town called Gainesville, Florida. Denny Genovese moved into the house, right after graduating from New College in Sarasota, where he had studied Composition, Ethnomusicology and Psychology. He brought with him a moving van full of large unusual musical instruments that he had built in order to make large unusual music.
Denny put the instruments in a room that might otherwise have been used as a sitting room and established a studio where they could be played and recorded. He then invited the most talented musicians in Gainesville to come see and hear them, and to try their hands at playing them. The musicians, many of whom represented musical cultures outside the USA, tended to be enthusiastic, often remarking that one or more of the instruments reminded them of something of their home culture. Yet, it was all fresh and new, with surprises in every note.
After several Jam sessions, Denny invited several of the musicians to join him in creating an ensemble to play his existing compositions for these instruments (and invited them to compose for them as well) so that public performances could be produced. Word got around in the community. The Harn Museum of Art was planning an exhibition of Futuristic Art, and invited the newly formed Ensemble to play for it's opening. All the local media were there, and the ensemble immediately became Gainesville celebrities, with Newspaper articles, Radio interviews and more invitations for performances.
Several Community Leaders attended the shows, and helped to form a nonprofit organization to facilitate support. Because of the World Music direction of the show, and the use of a musical scale that allowed for accurate intonation of music from various lands, the name World Harmony Project was proposed and adopted. In deciding a name for the ensemble, many proposals were rejected as being either not descriptive enough or overly technical. Finally a suggestion by Norman Henry was adopted, and the group became known as Denny Genovese's Exotic Music Ensemble. Collaboration with Dancer-Choreographer, Karen Boon Von Ochssee, brought world dance into the act as well.
The City of Gainesville agreed to co-sponsor four performances per year at the Historic Thomas Center, and a healthy following developed around them. We were also invited to play at special events at State Parks, City Art Festivals and other venues. Radio Interviews and Newspaper Articles continued as we became more popular in North Central Florida.
We always shared these shows with other acts that offered music and/or dance representing a tradition outside the standard Euro-American repertoire. These included music and dance of India, Asia, Africa, Brazil, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, and Native America. By 1993, there was enough enthusiasm to produce the First Festival of World Music and Culture, a day-long event at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens that featured Twenty acts, presenting Music and Dance from around the world. Vendors were selected on the basis of authenticity, and various organizations gave talks and presentations to familiarize the public with their cultures.
Many local musicians came to the studio to take music lessons, and some learned to build and maintain instruments, as well. Various people donated more instruments, books, recordings and other materials enabling us to keep an archive and library for research, and a set of instruments and other resources that we loaned to artists in the area. Word of all of this got around to other parts of the country, and people started asking to come and spend time to learn about our music and tuning. Cabins were built in the forest to house them, and people came to stay for varying lengths of time, from a week to a year. Thus what started out as a house in the forest became the Southeast Just Intonation Center.
This activity continued and grew for seven years. A Second Festival of World Music and Culture was presented at the Florida School of Massage in 1995, which was co-sponsored by the State of Florida Department of Cultural Affairs. Over the course of those seven years, over one hundred musicians had either participated in the Exotic Music Ensemble or studied at the Southeast Just Intonation Center.
Change is inevitable, and it came to World Harmony Project in the seventh year. The owner of the property died just before the seven year lease was up. His heirs wanted the land, and would not renew the lease. This was catastrophic, as there was no place where we could go immediately to keep our momentum and continue the elaborate programs that had grown on the eleven acre tract of forest. Subsequently, all residencies ceased and the ensemble was disbanded until a new home could be found.
Paul Davenport of the Florida School of Massage had been a major supporter from the beginning and came to the rescue by offering to keep the instruments at the Massage School, until the next place could materialize. Darren Burgess, who had been a student of Denny and worked at the Massage school, cared for the instruments, while building a Just Intoned Amplified Carillon in the same room.
Patrick Pagano, another former student of Denny, coordinated various Just Intonation events in Gainesville for a time, while Shanti Vani and Thierry Mingione continued to present World Music and Dance events for another seven years.
Joshua Lederman, who had been a member of the ensemble and who recorded the album, used the room at the Massage School to host jam sessions with the instruments and make recordings for airing on his weekly radio show, the Sonic Circus.
Meanwhile, after taking a sabbatical to travel and meet with other microtonalists, Denny Genovese has been scanning paper and digitizing music to make the unique material in our archives available on this website.
In January, 2012 Paul Davenport contacted Denny to say that he needed his room back at the Massage School, so the instruments and archives are now in a storage unit until we are able to move them to their next location. Denny is grateful to Paul for keeping the instruments safe for fourteen years!
Temporary Studio Space
in Gainesville, Florida
Thanks to Paul and Josey Mauger for donating the use of their recently inherited house in Gainesville, Florida! This is a temporary situation (up to two years), but it provides a window of opportunity for creating new music with the instruments of Denny Genovese. In addition to a large room where the instruments and recording facilities are located, there is a meeting room, kitchen, workshop space and a guest room!
If you are a musician, composer, instrument builder, etc. and would like to propose or participate in a project using this studio, send an email to get started!
We hope to begin a new phase in a new location in the near future. That will require someone to donate Land, a building or enough money to acquire such, in a suitable area.
Paul Davenport, Patch Adams and Jacob Barton are among the first to contribute toward the next phase. Can you help too?
A nonprofit 501(c)3 Educational and Cultural Organization
More content can be found at our older site.
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Copyright (c) 2006 World Harmony Project Inc.
Revised: April 05, 2013 .