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 amazing story through multiple iterations of song, drama, and spoken word ever since. At age 20, T was just beginning his cello studies in a Hochschule fur Musik in Detmold, Germany, and 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 came back to Vancouver, Canada, not knowing how long he would live, let alone love again, T gravitated to his other musical love ~ classic rock ~ and started to write songs and sing.
But, since T had only known classical music and its workings up to this point, his compositional style being in the through-composed manner, his classic rock songs turned out to be more in a classical music/classic, or, as he likes to describe it — ‘jazzy-classical art rock’ ‘musical-theateresque’ style. T’s biggest influences are Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, Richard Strauss, and Nina Simone. After testing positive, he didn’t want to glorify himself 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, however little time he had left, to make a difference.
After joining bands, in his late 20s, T realized his story would best be told in a rock-operatic form. T produced a multi-media stage production of his rock opera ‘Southern Time’ for a 7-day run in December 2005 in Vancouver. His story was not done, though. 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. However, though T had taken HIV medication for the first two years after diagnosis, he stopped taking them for the next 10 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, whereupon his mother came and brought him back to Vancouver. He spent the next six months in the hospital on the brink of death, but after receiving life-saving treatment, T made a miraculous recovery, despite sustaining (potentially) permanent lower spinal cord damage. T has performed one-man versions of his rock opera in Toronto, Vancouver, Perth (Australia), AIDS 2010, AIDS 2016, and AIDS 2018 since, and is now gearing up to put the ‘Southern Time Band’ together so that they can record their first commercial album in 2019, with a world tour following in 2020.