Vinfonies Festival Invites Ben Houge of NewMusicBox to Write Music to Pair With Wine

By Steve Nagel on Nov 19, 2015 09:17 AM EST

Although synesthesia is an extreme case of experiencing one sense through another (that most of us will never experience), most of us do have each sense influenced by our other senses to some degree.  Taste, for instance, is a sense just as prone to interacting with our hearing as it does with our sense of smell, or with our sense of touch, or frankly, any combination thereof.  The Vinifonies wine and music festival takes this a step further by inviting musicians, such as Ben Houge, to write music to be paired with wine for blind tasting events.

In fact, this particular pairing is taken quite seriously by Ben Houge of NewMusicBox, who has written plenty on the subject (comparatively speaking). He did us all the service of reporting on (and participating in) a unique festival called the Vinfonies Festival, a wine and music festival held annually in Villafranca del Penedès, Spain. The seventh Vinfonies festival was held this year, from September 24th to 27th. According to Ben Houge of NewMusicBox, the festivals offer a unique opportunity to "experience the wine and music pairings blindfolded, eliminating visual distractions to focus on taste, smell, touch, and sound."

Wine, a cherished beverage for its many complementary qualities, may only be thought of as musical in a tertiary sense to most people, i.e. if you're drinking a glass of wine and some music happens to be playing, then a certain mood may -- or may not -- be enhanced. Well, Vinfonies runs under the assumption that there's more of a science behind the pairing than serendipity would have us believe. They decided to turn the tables and invite the composition of music based solely on wine. As part of their festival, Vinfonies placed a call out to composers who would write a piece of music, all set to the "surprise bottle" of wine they received in the mail. Ben Houge of NewMusicBox, who participated in the series received a bottle of Azul y Garanza 2012 Garciano. Also participating were composers/producers Larry Gus, Edu Comelles and Lloret Salvatge.

Houge went on to explain his compositional process and the unique experience of writing music to wine. He also cited other notable instances where musical flavor impacted his thinking. When the piece was complete, the results were made available to the festivalgoers for an evening long experience, and what the Vinfonies' website poetically describes as "blind tasting... a careful staging, which takes on tones of liturgy, where each musical composition makes us discover a wine differently". Pushing the boundaries of inspiration ever outwards, Vinfonies, now in its seventh year, seems to be proving that wine and music were two lovebirds that, until now, hadn't properly been introduced.

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TagsVinfonies, NewMusicBox, Ben Houge, Larry Gus, synesthesia

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