The Home of Music
Benoit Glazer and Elaine Corriveau open their ‘White House’ to musicians and the people who come to hear them.
By Brad Kuhn
Musicians perform at “The White House” on a Sunday evening.
Norma Lopez Molina
From the street, the white house at 2001 Hamilton Lane near downtown Orlando looms ominous—a towering blank asymmetric, without shutters, soffits, or any of the features that give houses that almost human quality.
A knock on the front door goes unanswered. That’s because all the action is happening around back in a three-story room with two balcony sections, a spiral staircase cutting through them to the bottom floor. On most Sunday nights and the occasional Monday or Tuesday you’ll find more than a 100 houseguests blissing out here to some of the hottest jazz and experimental music this side of, well, Mars.
A Colombian percussion combo one week, followed by 14 flutes and a dozen clarinets the next. Seventy-six trombones wouldn’t fit – but a musician from Germany once simulated a train by dragging the bell of one trombone across the tile floor. Almost anything goes. Anything but pop, which gets plenty of play everywhere else. Most event nights there’s a visual artist, stage left, racing to create something beautiful before the band bows.
Known as—what else—“The White House,” this haven for the local intelligentsia was designed and built as both home and concert venue by Benoit Glazer, 47, and his wife, Elaine Corriveau, 46.
If the exterior is plain, the interior more than makes up for that, with stained glass, Brazilian granite floors, brick and wood walls, and an art gallery that changes from week to week. Everything, even the African masks on the back wall and balconies, has been placed for acoustic effect. As music director for Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba, Glazer wouldn’t have it any other way.
That’s him up front, the trumpet virtuoso in a stretchy T, ageless and athletic, welcoming guests with a French accent. Often, he opens the show with a personal composition featuring Elaine, or one of their three children—all accomplished musicians.
The Timucua Concert Series started in 2000 at the family’s previous home on Lake Timucua in Hunter’s Creek. New to town and missing the music scene back home in Montréal, the couple asked Benoit’s bandmates over for a living-room jam session and invited everyone within a mile radius.
|Benoit Glazer, seen here working the sound controls during a house concert, is the music director for Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba.|
Now in its 13th year, the series has hosted hundreds of musicians from all over the world. Many have used the intimate environs to unveil new work. Glazer claims more than 300 debuts to date. Accomplished musicians have been known to switch from spectator to participant on the spur of the moment.
And, like that first concert, they’re all free. Glazer doesn’t even pass the hat—a popular practice at a growing number of “house concerts” around the country. Musicians aren’t paid, although some receive travel stipends from private donors. Guests are encouraged to buy CDs.
“When you play for a fee, it’s a business transaction,” Glazer says, speaking as both host and as a musician. “At some of these big house concerts you feel like a prize on display for the owner’s friends. This isn’t like that.”
What it is, is wonderful. Envisioned as a slice of Montréal, The White House evokes the salons of 1920s Paris. It’s a bohemian wildflower in a buttoned-down suburban landscape. You’re already invited. Just come around back. Bring wine, and a snack to share.