Singing bowls, spoken word wisdom and the Ass Ponys: TEDxCincinnati lineup draws Memorial Hall crowd

CINCINNATI - Built in 1908, Memorial Hall played host to a very 21st Century event Thursday, Oct. 3. More than 400 people filled its concert hall for TEDxCincinnati's main stage event "Sound Ideas."

TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a non-profit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TEDx is an off-shoot that allows local volunteers to stage their own versions of TED Talks and other events. 

The WCPO #9community team attended "Sound Ideas." Here are our reflections and picks for high points of the night.

Jenny Bak, Community Manager

Have you ever heard a bowl sing? Well, I have. Ron Esposito and his singing bowls took me to another auditory world at "Sound Ideas."

I can’t remember the last time I felt as relaxed as I did at Memorial Hall, with the reverberations of Esposito’s bowl performance filling the concert hall. Think of the most calming sounds you’ve heard: maybe it was the soft babble of a brook or the still of the woods, with only crickets and birds penetrating the air with their soft sounds in the distance. Think of that moment when your entire body was so relaxed, warm, almost liquid. Think of a time when your mind was absolutely clear, be it in prayer or reflection, meditation, or a daydream. Now wrap all of those memories together, and you’ll know how I felt listening to Esposito manipulate the airwaves with his musical concoction.

Throughout the evening, speakers and performers interpreted the theme of “sound ideas” in numerous ways: actual ideas that turned into community and world-changers; music; and, examinations of the science of hearing and the art of listening. It was an evening of learning.

What really made Esposito’s performance resonate with me, though, was the full-body effect of his sounds. How cool is it that the combinations of pitches and vibrations could have such an immediate effect on people, both physiologically and mentally? We’re quick to medicate ourselves when stress or anxiety levels rise, but do we ever stop to think about the transformative, healing effect sounds actually have?

There is a reason chants, music and vibrations have been employed by holistic healers: their powers are overwhelming and captivating.  

Libby Cunningham, Community Manager

Sound ideas are not always about the things we hear, although Dr. Tonya M. Matthews, also known as JaHipster, will tell you that.

She was one of 11 acts that took to Memorial Hall stage for TEDxCincinnati Thursday night.

From singing bowls to spoken-soul poetry, the sold-out crowd spent an evening at "Sound Ideas" sharing amazing concepts.

The message that stuck with me the most came from Cincinnati Christian University alum Joe Boyd.  Boyd said he knows about failure, despite his film "A Strange Brand of Happy" being shown in theaters nationwide.

Before that, he was a pastor, comic and actor who met bumps in the road in all three fields.

"Failure is the cost of wisdom and humility," he said, reminding the crowd that "you have to keep trying."

Holly Edgell, Community Editor

As  emcee for “Sound Ideas,” I got to meet the performers and speakers before the show and listened to their messages and music from backstage.

I particularly enjoyed:

  • The drums of World Beat, the local guys who unite Native American, Australian and African instruments for an amazing sound.
  • Dr. Ingrid Byerly, an ethnomusicologist from South Africa. She asked the rhetorical question, “What would happen if we taught history through musical milestones rather than wars?”
  • Dr. Tonya Matthews, a.k.a. JaHipster. Full disclosure: As a member of the "Sound Ideas" planning committee, I put her name in for consideration. Matthews just left Cincinnati for the top job at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. She returned for this event, and got us all thinking about what we really hear when we think we’re listening.

It was also a treat to hear two songs from The Ass Ponys, a local band that made a bit of a splash in the late 1980s and early 1990s--making it onto MTV and "The John Stewart Show."

For more information about TEDxCincinnati:

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