Epic "Random Acts of Culture" Flash Mob Brings 200 Artists To Lincoln Road

While flash mobs and pop-up parties that involve bikinis, swimming pools and beach balls are all well and good, we have to applaud those that have a little more cultural relevance. Enter the Knight Foundation, who's been going gangbusters for the past two years creating Random Acts of Culture in cities across the U.S. - Miami included.

The Knight Foundation, whose mission is to create "informed and engaged communities," has worked with organizations in eight cities across America to help everyday people interact with art. Their pop-up performances have brought artists "out of the halls and into the streets," as VP of Arts Dennis Scholl put it.

Basically, arias, choreographed dances, orchestra interludes, and other artistic performances have popped up in airports, shopping malls, corporate headquarters, and other places where people gather en masse. The reactions have been astonishing -- often with audience members unleashing a flood of emotions.

Now that they've reached their goal of 1,000 such experiences across the country, the Knight Foundation is celebrating with four epic pop-up events across the country, including one on Lincoln Road. The entertainment will take place on September 1, but the time and exact location are hush-hush (hence the randomness of the event).

Here's what we do know: 200 singers, musicians, and dancers from around the country will belt out Miami-based composer Sam Hyken's adaptation of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." His version is described as a "mash-up of classical, vocal, jazz, gospel, and Afro-Cuban music."

The ensemble will include musicians from the Miami Music Project and the Frost School of Music, singers from the Miami Mass Choir and Master Chorale, drummers and dancers from IFE ILE Afro-Cuban dance company, and dance students from the 2012 Ailey Camp and the Edwin Holland Dance Ensemble.

Should you be on Lincoln Road that day, it'll be hard to miss.

It was Scholl's idea to introduce this concept throughout the states after someone sent him a video of opera performers belting out a pop-up aria in a deli in Valencia, Spain. He was blown away, and thought the idea would be brilliant in the U.S.

He and his team worked to line up a series of partners in Miami, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Paul, Macon, Detroit, Akron, and Charlotte.

"It really became an international sensation," Scholl said. "We've gotten tens of millions of views of the Random Acts of Culture videos that we created."

Scholl says the real goal is to remind people of their love for the classics. "We're not trying to draw a straight line from someone seeing a Random Act of Culture at Macy's to running out and buying a ticket to La Traviata. This is a way of reminding people that they still care about these classic art forms and pieces."

Seeing these performances often brings people back to when they first heard or saw them as children (often in cartoons) -- and reminds them of the joy that came with that experience, Scholl says.

The events often elicit surprising reactions from people in the audience, including frequent tears and sobs of joy. Scholl says upon hearing an aria, one male spectator put his arm around his wife and began singing along to her, word-for-word.

The Lincoln Road pop-up is sure to be an unforgettable experience, so pack your camera, some tissues, and get ready for the waterworks to flow.

You can learn more about the Knight Foundation's Random Acts of Culture project at randomactsofculture.org.

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