Formed through classical music training and classic rock intrigue and being challenged and shaped through an HIV positive diagnosis in 1996, T (aka ‘Timothy Bartsch’) has shared his incredible story through multiple iterations of song, drama, and spoken word ever since. At age 20, T was beginning his cello studies in a Hochschule fur Musik in Detmold, Germany. Upon learning of his HIV positive status, and considering the trauma of how he contracted it, he felt his classical music studies were over. He returned to Vancouver, Canada, not knowing how long he would live, let alone to perish just like the people living with HIV, T gravitated to his other musical love ~ classic rock ~ and started to write songs and sing.
Although T had only known classical music and its workings up to this point, his compositional style is in a through-composed manner; and his classic rock songs turned out to be more in a rock opera style, or, as he likes to describe it — ‘Psychedelic Jazzy-Classical Musical-Theateresque Art-Rock.’ Some of T’s biggest influences are Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and Nina Simone. After testing positive, he did not want to glorify himself and the people living with HIV anymore by having a brilliant music career, T wanted to seduce the masses, tying music to a positive message of peace, hope, love, and compassion for all. He wanted his life, little time he had left, to make a difference for people living with HIV.
In his late 20s, T realized his story would best be told in rock opera form after joining bands. T produced a multi-media stage production of his musical ‘Southern Time’ for a 7-day run in December 2005 in Vancouver. However, his story was not over. T and a friend of his put the rock opera on in two-person version form and toured it on their way to Toronto in 2007 and performed it at the Halifax Fringe Festival in 2008.
Although T had taken HIV medication for the first two years after diagnosis, he stopped taking them for the next ten years and did not see a physician because of his belief at the time that HIV does not cause AIDS.
By the end of 2008, T started to get very ill. In 2009, he nearly died from AIDS-related illnesses in Toronto General Hospital, where his mother came and brought him back to Vancouver. He spent the next six months in the hospital on the brink of death. After receiving life-saving treatment, T made a miraculous recovery, despite sustaining (potentially) permanent lower spinal cord damage.
T has performed one-person versions of his rock opera in Toronto, Vancouver, Perth (Australia), AIDS 2010, AIDS 2016, AIDS 2018, and online for AIDS 2020.
T is now gearing up to perform online with the ‘Southern Time Band’ for the rest of 2020. T and his production team will also begin pre-production on the first film of the ‘Southern Time Tetralogy,’ set to release at the end of 2021.