‘Gourmet Symphony’ Aims to Heighten Perceptions of Music and Food

by Andrea Swalec February 2, 2015 at 12:55 pm 0

John Devlin (Photo courtesy of Gourmet Symphony)While classical musicians play Tchaikovsky, you can sip a vodka cocktail. During a selection from an Italian opera, you can dine on a dish from Vendetta. The music is designed to enhance the meal, and the meal is designed to enhance the music.

That’s the experience “Gourmet Symphony” will try to create on H Street NE later this month. Musicians, chefs and mixologists are teaming up to create a music and food pairing event on Valentine’s Day at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St. NE).

“We’re looking for people to have an experience where all their senses are excited,” Gourmet Symphony co-founder John Devlin said about the first in a series of events he will create this year.

Gourmet Symphony will provide an aural and gustatory tour of Europe, said Devlin, an Alexandria resident who is a conductor for the Capital City Symphony, among other groups.

Dessert will pair “light, meringue-y” sweets with the 1899 Maurice Ravel piece “Pavane for a Dead Princess.”

“We’re hoping that the lightness of the music — the strings and the harp — will enhance the taste of the food you’re eating,” Devlin, 29, said.

The remainder of the dishes on the four-course menu will be a surprise, but will match the nationality of each composer. The dishes will be prepared by restaurants including Smith Commons, Vendetta and Beuchert’s Saloon.

Devlin created the event with food operations director John Coco, who he previously worked with at The Kennedy Center. Over lunch at the H Street location of Taylor Gourmet, they talked about research they had seen about how perception of sound can affect perception of taste.

“We thought, Why don’t we develop a process to enhance the experience of music for people?” Devlin said.

He recalled having his own food/sound experience at Rock & Roll Hotel. He ate a hamburger and drank a Pabst Blue Ribbon as classical musicians played rock songs.

“I remember sitting there and thinking there was something really authentic about the experience,” Devlin said.

Tickets for the event 7 p.m. Feb. 14 cost $125 each and are available online.


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