Make Music New York Turns 10!
Celebrate With More Than 1000 Free Outdoor Concerts On First Day Of Summer
Tuesday, June 21
Co-hosts include Americas Society, Audubon Society, Brooklyn Public Library, Bronx Music Heritage Center, Central Park Summerstage, City Winery, Cornelia Street Cafe, Friends of the High Line, Harlem Arts Festival, Jazz Foundation of America, Joe’s Pub,
Madison Square Park Conservancy, and New York Public Library
Make Music New York will celebrate its 10th year with a cornucopia of free, outdoor, public concerts all around the city on Tuesday, June 21, the first day of summer. Since the festival first began in 2007, Make Music New York has become an indispensable part of the city’s cultural life, offering a dazzling array of events in all five boroughs.
Make Music New York is the flagship event of Make Music Day, celebrated in more than 35 cities around the US, and a highlight of the international Fête de la Musique, taking place on June 21 in 700 cities across 120 countries.
Unlike typical music festivals, anyone can take part in Make Music Day, and all events are free and open to the public. In New York, any musician, amateur or professional, young or old, is invited to sign up at www.makemusicny.org; registration closes on April 29. Likewise, businesses, buildings, schools, churches, and others can visit the website to offer their outdoor spaces as concert locations. A full schedule of events, starting times, and locations will be posted on the site on May 31.
It may come as no surprise that NYC musicians – unrivaled in their creativity and entrepreneurial drive – have embraced the freewheeling spirit of the festival to innovate new events each year. Make Music New York’s 10th-anniversary year is no exception. From large-scale spectacles to street-corner singalongs, from funk to punk to bluegrass to opera, MMNY has something for everyone.
Though born in Baltimore, longtime New Yorker Philip Glass is known as one of the city’s iconic musical figures. So it’s fitting that he will help MMNY usher in its second decade by playing from his Etudes for piano at Pier i in Riverside Park, along with 19 students from New York City public schools, starting at 5 pm.
In addition, Jazz at Lincoln Center returns in 2016 with a new event: a New Orleans-style Second Line Parade led by trumpeter/composer Jason Olaine, JALC’s Director of Programming and Touring. Beginning at Columbus Circle (starting time tba), the swinging procession will wend its way up to the Lincoln Center Campus, where it will meet jazz and blues singer Catherine Russell, the headliner for this year’s opening MidSummer Night Swing concert and dance party.
In a different vein, at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, the Staten Island Yankees – farm team for the Bronx Bombers – will host both major and minor (chord) players in a crowdsourced performance of Eye of the Tiger, the 1980s jock-rock anthem by Survivor. Boomwhackers – pitched hollow pipes made of plastic – will be passed out at the game on June 21 (7 pm), with different notes for different sections. Original Survivor frontman Dave Bickler, renowned for his vocals on “Eye of the Tiger,” will come onto the field and lead a performance of the classic hit, inviting people to whack the tubes on cue, on the seats or bleachers in front of them. At the end of the game, people are welcome to keep the pipes, or deposit them in receptacles to be donated to Staten Island elementary school classrooms.
New York City’s avian life is celebrated in composer/clarinetist David Rothenberg’s Inside the Bird Chorus, conceived as a dialogue between improvising musicians and native bird species of NYC. Mr. Rothenberg performs at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and BBG’s resident bird expert will be on hand for conversation. There will be similar performances by other musicians in all five boroughs: Wave Hill (Bronx), Central Park (Manhattan), Jamaica Wildlife Refuge (Queens), Fresh Kills Park (Staten Island), all at either dawn or dusk, the prime bird call hours. NYC Audubon will offer free bird walks following select dawn events.
One of the city’s most acclaimed and exciting ensembles, ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), pays tribute to Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera in his 100th-birthday year. Their concert at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park (5 pm) will include Ginastera’s Serenata and fellow Argentine Mario Davidovsky’s Divertimento a 8 ‘Ambiguous Symmetries’ (2015). The piano music of avant-garde American composer Earle Brown is surveyed in a recital on Cornelia Street in the West Village, featuring four pianos in the middle of the street. Pieces include works by Brown, whose 90th anniversary takes place this year, and Morton Feldman, with performers to be announced.
For kids (and others), the Brooklyn Public Library will host a workshop for budding electronic musicians, starting at 4 pm. Tables will be set up with different activities on the library’s front plaza by Grand Army Plaza. There will be littleBits synth kits and a multitude of littleBits buzzers; the workshop leaders will also show attendees how to make banana pianos using Makey Makeys. On the analog side, they will offer kazoos, and a make-your-own percussion-instrument craft. After about 45 minutes of these activities, the attendees will gather for a 5-10 minute long performance.
Highlighting the ever-popular participatory Mass Appeal gatherings, for multiples of a single instrument, is a new event – Shimmer, composed by Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and sponsored by the Avedis Zildjian Company. Says Chase, “The event comes at the time of the summer solstice, the moment marking the official arrival of summer in the Northern Hemisphere – what instrument better compliments the form of the sun as much as the shape of a cymbal? Contained within each individual cymbal is a huge world of tones ranging from very low to very high. Exploring this ‘tone world’ and the sonic potential of cymbals, both individual and collective, is a primary aim of Shimmer.” It takes place at Madison Square Park, starting at 3:30 pm.
The Gauntlet, taking place on the High Line, is another new event. It is described by composer Sxip Shirey as “a choir you walk through…a vocal adventure of tones and rhythms for 60 singers.” The Gauntlet calls for two rows of 30 singers to engage in a musical dialogue as the public experiences the piece by walking at their own pace through the rows of paired singers. Another new event is Guerrilla Fanfare, composed by Kevin James for brass quintet and percussion. Each musician will begin playing solo, while dispersed in different parts of the city. As they play, they will walk towards a park, and will converge to play the piece’s finale together. The piece will be performed on June 21 NYC at Battery Park and Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, and also at Millennium Park in Chicago.
Also new is Here, a Mass Appeal event for music boxes with composer Angélica Negrón. It takes place at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Returning Mass Appeals will include French horns, guitars, ukuleles, bassoons, and synthesizers.
Concerto for Buildings is back for 2016. The block of Greene St between Grand and Broome, with eight buildings that have hollow, cast-iron facades that resonate when struck, will be shut down as Mantra Percussion invites noted composers, including Brooks Frederickson and Kevin Moran, to write short pieces for buildings and ensemble, which together will constitute a new Concerto for Buildings. The gifted young musicians of Mantra Youth Percussion will be the backing band.
Also back are the self-explanatory Punk Island marathon (June 19) and bluegrass/old-time music jamboree Porch Stomp (June 18). These events take place on Governors Island, with weekend dates enabling easier access to the site. Sousapalooza is back with more than 150 wind band musicians – including many Sousaphones – from around the tri-state area, performing in Manhattan’s Bryant Park in the afternoon. The performance will be led by Jeff W. Ball, conductor of the Brooklyn Wind Symphony.
Additional details and more highlights, both new and returning, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Make Music New York is free to the public, no tickets required. Further information on Make Music New York is available at www.makemusicny.org.