RIO WOLTA - concert in the dark

No More Intimate Music (2018)
A concert in the dark by Rio Wolta / Piet Baumgartner

orangelight Kopie.jpg

On 9th November 2018 Rio Wolta released his second album named «No More Intimate Music» (listen to it HERE). The record is about intimacy and intimacy in public and Wolta didn’t want to play ‘normal’ shows to present it live. Already in the past three years he was looking for new forms to play his music live (see e.g. «Maschinen» or «Showroom»).

There were mainly two questions before Wolta and his crew came up with the darkness idea. First: In which scenery can you fully concentrate on the music? Second: What do we mean when we talk about an intimate concert? Pretty soon and after a few try outs it was clear that darkness must be the solution. When you don’t see anything you automatically sharpen your ears which sets the focus on nothing else but the music. And: When you’re in the dark you don’t know by how many people you’re surrounded by. You don’t know whether you’re alone or together with others which creates that intimacy and also a kind of loneliness the crew was looking for.

The concert in the dark works at several places. At Gessnerallee in Zürich (22.-24th November 2018) there were two bigger rooms (150sqm each) and one smaller room (80sqm). There were all in the same line next to each other. In the two bigger rooms the audience was placed on comfortable beach chairs. The smaller room was taken as the main room for the band with some light in it. The audience had no access to the smaller room (doors were shut).

 Smaller room on the left for the musicians, two rooms for the audience on the right.

Smaller room on the left for the musicians, two rooms for the audience on the right.

The two bigger rooms were not constantly dark. After every 20 minutes there were a few short cinematic light effects. Due to these light effects people were able to guess the shape of the room after a while and at the same time they realized that they were not alone. This changed the situation and gave a new twist to the dramaturgy of the evening.

 Photos taken with night sights.

Photos taken with night sights.

 Volunteer with a night sight.

Volunteer with a night sight.

The musicians were not only in the room on the left. Guided by volunteers wearing night sights the musicians sometimes switched the rooms and played or sang acoustic in the dark right next to the audience. So for the audience it wasn’t really possible to locate the musicians. They never knew whether the band is in the same room or somewhere else.

A wandering sound was in general important during this project. With eight sound boxes it was possible to let the sound move from one corner to another. When you fully concentrate on the music this feels like being on an acoustic rollercoaster. It was important to have the audience in between the sound instead of letting them standing or sitting opposite it. The aim was to confront them one hundred percent with the sound.

Short video shot during the rehearsals with the help of a night sight and a smartphone.

• at Gessnerallee Zurich «No More Intimate Music» was shown three times
• The band played three hours and the audience could come and leave whenever they wanted to (guided one by one by the volunteers wearing night sights)
• 100 people attended «No More Intimate Music» each night
• Gessnerallee Zurich is the most important venue in Switzerland when it comes to interdisciplinary performance (dance/music/theater)
• Rio Wolta (musician) and Piet Baumgartner (director) have been working together for seven years. They won several international prizes for example for their video «Through My Street» (LINK). Check their work on or

• 4 or 5 musicians
• 1 show manager (for guiding the musicians and doing the light effects)
• 1 sound mixer
• 3-4 volunteers who guide the audience with night sights (can be local people; instruction time: 30 minutes)
[3-4 volunteers are calculated for an audience of 100 people]

• night sight rent: 800$/week for 4 pieces/volunteers