It’s the most wonderful time of the year. To continue those festive vibes, check out Make Music Winter, a free, outdoor music-making celebration with over 1,000 concerts on streets, sidewalks, and parks across the five boroughs.
Held on Dec. 21st (winter solstice), this one-day event brings together New Yorkers of all ages, musical abilities and genres to sing, play, march and dance their way across streets, parks, plazas and other public spaces citywide. Read on to check out more about Make Music Winter and it’s upcoming lineup:
Highlights of Make Music Winter 2017:
Bell by Bell – Artist Tom Peyton will hand out 96 color-coded bells to the crowd gathered in Tompkins Square Park – one color per note. As the ensemble makes its way through the streets of the East Village, a team of conductors waves corresponding colored flags in sync with a series of specially curated compositions, prompting participants to collectively contribute to sonorous, atmospheric soundscapes that intensify as the group learns to work and play together. The parade features hand bell music compositions from composers Eric Beach, Dan Edinberg (The Stepkids), Nat Evans, Eric Frederic, Amy Garapic, Robert Honstein, Matt Marble and Alex Waterman. Participants should arrive at the park’s southern oval at 5:45 pm to warm up for the 6 pm departure. The parade ends at Two Boots Pizza (at the corner of Avenue A and East 3rd Street), where participants will receive free slices and soda courtesy of the restaurant.
The Earth is Our Mother – Composer and performer Judith Sainte Croix will lead a group performance of the traditional Hopi chant, “The Earth is Our Mother,” in Petrosino Square in Soho. Sainte Croix will be joined by Andrew Bolotowsky on the Native American flute, who will also perform selections from the former’s composition, “The Acadian Suite,” and from “Music for the Royal Fireworks” by George Frideric Handel. A sing-along featuring seasonal tunes will close out the program. This program is produced in association with Friends of Petrosino Square. Performances will begin at 12 pm and participants should gather at the northernmost tip of the square at Lafayette Street and Spring Street. Shakers and bells will be distributed but people are urged to bring their own if they have them.
Flatfoot Flatbush – Dancers, fiddlers and pickers will parade down Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue playing old-time tunes while flatfooting – a form of percussive dancing from Appalachia – led by Megan Downes, Nick Horner and Theo Boguszewski. Participants will learn the fundamental steps of this rhythmic dance form and have a chance to practice with the Flatfoot Flatbush String Band. The parade traverses Prospect Heights, with dozens of stops along the way to play, dance and sing. The fun continues at an after-party at Morgan’s BBQ featuring music and dance sets by the Wild Goats and the Flatfoot Flatbush Band. This programs is produced by Horner and Boguszewski in association with the North Flatbush Business Improvement District and made possible with support from M&T Bank and Con Ed. Participants should arrive by 4 pm at M&T Bank (354 Flatbush Avenue) to warm up and learn how to flatfoot. The parade starts at 4:32 pm (sunset). The after-party begins at 7 pm.
Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk – Gaits is an immersive, site-specific parade featuring compositions by Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson and Cameron Britt in which the wonders of our everyday technology transform participants’ movements into musical improvisations. Participants are encouraged to download a free smartphone app created by Daniel Iglesia in advance so that upon arrival, they can simply connect their phones to small, wearable sneakers. The app captures the GPS coordinates and velocities of participants to trigger a variety of twinkling metallic sounds, electric guitar chords, dulcimer notes, water splashes, car horns and applause, empowering marchers to effortlessly make music while interacting with their environment and each other. This program is produced in association with Friends of the High Line. Participants should arrive at 4:45 pm at the southern end of the High Line, at the base of the Gansevoort Stairs, for the 5 pm departure.
JACK Plays Haas in the Dark / JACK Quartet – To celebrate the winter solstice, JACK Quartet will immerse Brooklyn’s National Sawdust (NS) in darkness as they perform the U.S. premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas’s “String Quartet No. 9.” This performance is the culmination of years of collaboration with Haas on his unique harmonic language, particularly on the performance of his third quartet, also performed in the darkness. In a special tie-in with Make Music Winter, JACK will lead a Master Class on the microtonal tuning and harmonic color that are integral to “String Quartet No. 9” and teach interested string players a short movement from the competition. Players will then be able to try their hand at performing the movement in the dark. Participants will also receive specially discounted tickets courtesy of NS to attend the 7 pm performance. The Master Class will take place from 2 pm to 3 pm at NS (80 N 6th Street).
Kalimbascope – Composer/conductor J.C. King will lead a procession of participants as they play kalimbas – an evolution of the African mbira, or thumb piano – through Madison Square Park. The plucking of these handheld folk instruments will be gently amplified through a speaker that moves in tandem with the musical parade to create an ephemeral soundscape realized in conjunction with Whiteout, a newly commissioned public art project by artist Erwin Redl that’s comprised of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a discrete, white LED light and suspended from a square grid of steel poles and cabling. The orbs are opportunistic, gently swaying with the wind currents from their positions of one foot above the ground plane. The white LEDs are animated in large-scale patterns superimposing a virtual movement on top of the kinetic movement of the spheres. The sequence of light is an incandescent treatment of urban public space across the dark seasons of the late fall and winter. Custom made kalimbas will be handed out to the first 25 participants to arrive at the park, or people can bring their own thumb piano, chime or hand bell. Participants should gather at the south end of the park’s Oval at 4:15 with the progression beginning at 4:32 pm (sunset).
Kreischer Evolution Holiday Jam – A mini holiday season showcase starring musicians curated by Sound Evolution Music will be held at the campus of the historic Kreischer Mansion on the South Shore of Staten Island. With multiple genres of musicianship represented, plus cookies and hot cocoa, this is a perfect event for the entire family to enjoy. The holiday jam at Kreischer Mansion (4500 Arthur Kill Road) will begin in the early evening, exact time TBA.
Melrose Parranda – The Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC) will host a parranda – the Puerto Rican tradition involving processions of carolers – in the borough’s Melrose section. Based in the music of plena, and other holiday songs from Puerto Rico, the parade will be led by members of the Bronx musical and cultural community, including Jorge Vázquez, Matthew Gonzalez, Bobby Sanabria and others. Each stop along the parranda will be a different casita – the little houses that evoke the houses of the countryside in Puerto Rico – concluding at the casita renowned for its musical legacy, Rincón Criollo Centro Cultural, aka “La Casita de Chema.” This year’s parrandawill pay tribute to Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico by opening with poetry by Jesús “Papoleto” Meléndez, followed by the island’s national anthem, “La Borinqueña.” Participants should arrive at El Coquí Community Garden’s Casita (414 East 163rd Street) no later than 4:30 pm.
Pilgrimage – Headlamp-clad singers will walk along Riverside Park while singing medieval melodies once sung on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, with the Cathedral of St. John the Divine serving as the destination. Singers of all skill levels are invited to join and no rehearsal is necessary. Participants should gather at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at West 95th Street) at 5:30 pm with the parade departing at 6 pm.
Prelude – Led by conductor Thomas McCargar, amateur and professional singers will join a vocal parade through Central Park while singing a commissioned arrangement of the Prelude movement of Bach’s “G-Major Cello Suite No. 1” conceived by composer James Holt that has been slowed dramatically to a contemplative tempo. The parade will pause under the resonant bridges and archways of the park to create a harmonic wash of sound and echoes. Amateur vocalists and the curious are welcome to participate: no sight-reading experience is necessary. Acoustic instrumentalists are also welcome to join in following the same parts as singers. Participants should gather in front of the park’s Arsenal Building (Fifth Avenue and 64th Street) at 11:45 am with the procession starting at 12 pm.
Queens Second Line Swing – Acclaimed jazz vocalists Claudette Morgan and TC the 3rd, stars of the new musical, “SS Nirvana: A Story of Love and Jazz On the High Seas,” will lead a New Orleans-style second line swing parade through the Kew Gardens section of Queens. Accompanied by a three-piece brass ensemble and bass drum, they will perform classic call-and-response standards by the likes of legends Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny, Hartman, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughn and Billy Eckstein, and will be joined by some of the borough’s top second line dancers. This program is presented with special thanks to “SS Nirvana” writer and director Roz Nixon. Participants should arrive at Maple Grove Park, at Hoover Avenue between Queens Boulevard and 132nd Street – exact time TBA.
Solstice Soul Train – Add some soul to your holiday season by hopping aboard the Solstice Soul Train. Inspired by the iconic TV music and dance show, the “train” will make its way through the historic neighborhoods of East Harlem and Harlem, and feature performances by several music groups, including the all women Brazilian drum line FogoAzul NYC, talent from El Barrio’s very own Los Pleneros de la 21, local Harlem band Aberdeen, and The Marching Cobras. The train will make stops at cultural hot spots, shops and restaurants, hosting additional performances by the Labor of Love Gospel Choir, The Nikita White Quartet, and students from the Afro-Latino drum and trumpet group Griot. Throughout the evening, remix king DJ Ted Smooth will host a soul-themed holiday dance jam under the Metro North train tracks at the UGC Community Plaza. Activities and giveaways organized by Uptown Grand Central will also occur at train stops along the route, including the Family Train Fun for kids hosted by the Second Avenue Subway Center and free treats along East 125th Street stops. This program is produced in association with Uptown Grand Central. The train runs from 5 pm to 7 pm, starting and ending at UGC Community Plaza, beneath the tracks at 125th Street and Park Avenue.
West African Fête – Join in a celebration of the jubilant sounds and rhythms hailing from West Africa in a parade through the West Village led by actors, dancers, drummers and African traditional musicians starring in the upcoming musical, “Broken Chains,” at Lang’s Theater at Hunter College. Traditional African instruments including balafon, kora, flutes and djembes will form the core of the parade. Participants should gather in front of Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street) no later than 12 pm.
Make Music Winter is also expanding beyond New York City with celebrations planned in:
- Montclair (NJ) – A kickoff music parade, a community handbell performance of winter-themed songs, and a Blink n Bike Musical Night Ride will highlight the local festivities.
- Ossining/Briarcliff (NY) – Performances will pop up all over town, including a morning jam session at the Mike Risko Music School and a Christmas carol flash mob.
- Chattanooga (TN) – A bonfire will be held at Studio SAM where musicians can bring their instruments and jam with each other around the fire while sharing food and drink.
- Muskogee (OK) – A mass performance of Jingle Bells / Sleigh Ride is among the music-making events taking place at Arrowhead Mall Muskogee.
All Make Music Winter events are free and open to the public. A full schedule of events is posted at http://www.makemusicny.org/winter-parades/.