Make Music Day, the annual global celebration featuring more than 4,000 free, outdoor concerts, music lessons and jam sessions in the United States, returns this year on Wednesday, June 21.
The all-day musical celebration on the summer solstice, which brings people of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels together to make music, will feature over 50 U.S. cities hosting major celebrations including New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), St. Louis, San Jose, Seattle and the entire states of Vermont and Rhode Island, with smaller festivities popping up in other communities nationwide.
Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music Day seeks to encourage all people to experience the pleasure of making music. Every kind of musician – from bucket drummers to opera singers – pours onto streets, parks, plazas, porches, rooftops, gardens and other public spaces to share their music with friends, neighbors and strangers.
Highlights of Make Music Day in the U.S. will include Sousapaloozas in Chicago, Cleveland, Madison, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York and San Jose that bring together hundreds of brass and wind musicians to play the music of John Philip Sousa; Street Studios in Atlanta, Chattanooga, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York and Philadelphia where DJs and producers bring their gear and engage passersby in the spontaneous, collaborative production of original music on the street; and over 150 Mass Appeals across the country that gather musicians to play together in large, single-instruments groups. Instruments with Mass Appeal events include guitars, harmonicas, accordions, flutes, percussion, trombones, bassoons, French horns, synthesizers, ukuleles, djembes, harps and voices.
Make Music Day, which began in France in 1982 as the Fête de la Musique, has since grown to include more than 750 cities across 120 countries – and is presented in the U.S. by The NAMM Foundation and coordinated by the nonprofit Make Music Alliance.
Additional Make Music Day 2017 highlights include:
- Ella Fitzgerald Piano Bar – In New York City and Los Angeles, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth and presented with support from the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, a piano will be transported on a pickup truck to multiple locations that have deep connections to the jazz icon including the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and her old neighborhood in Beverly Hills. At each stop, members of the public will be given songbooks and invited to sing their favorite Ella song with live piano accompaniment.
- Boomwhackers – In an “MP3 Experiment” produced by Improv Everywhere, over 3,000 participants in New York’s Battery Park will download an MP3 track that provides a kind of narrated adventure experience featuring Boomwhackers, which are colorful plastic tubes. By following the narration on the MP3, they will make music together by hitting the Boomwhackers against nearby objects. Ten other cities will also stage excerpts of this MP3 Experiment.
- The Gauntlet – Choirs in New York City, Chicago and Providence (RI) will perform composer Sxip Shirey’s 2016 piece, where two rows of 30 singers engage in a musical dialogue as audience members immerse themselves by walking, at their own pace, through the rows of paired singers.
- Lift Every Voice: Musicians Rising For Racial Justice – Performances of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and George Walker’s “Lyric for Strings” will be held in Boston, Chicago and Cleveland.
- Young Composers Contest – In celebration of Make Music Day, the software company MakeMusic Inc. and the nonprofit American Composers Forum are hosting a composition contest for young composers aged 13-21. Three judges – including Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon – will select one piece for wind band to be premiered in select cities on Make Music Day.
- WTC @ WTC – In the spirit of contemplation evoked through the repertoire and the setting, four grand pianos at the four corners of the World Trade Center Memorial Plaza will stage performances of music from J.S. Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier” by a rotating cast of professionals and students.
Other events around the country will highlight the musical history and ingenuity of each city including:
- San Jose, CA – The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will host a music crawl on the light rail with performers and food trucks at different stations
- Madison, WI – an Otis Redding-themed “Go Big Sing” will be held at the lake where the famed soul singer and six others died in a plane crash 50 years ago
- Davis, CA – a sing-along will be held in Central Park to mark the city’s centennial
- Los Angeles – a sunrise gospel celebration at Griffith Park Observatory for hikers and early morning park users will kick off the local music-making events
- Washington, DC – musicians will unite together in the nation’s capital and globally to simultaneously perform the peace anthem, “Set Me Free”
- Buffalo, NY – musicians will play inside the Marine A grain elevator at historic Silo City
- El Paso, TX – local musicians will be joined by their counterparts from Juarez, Mexico, to make music together across the border
All Make Music Day events are free and open to the public. Participants who wish to perform, or to host musical events, may register at MakeMusicDay.org. A full schedule of events will be posted on the website in early June.