Blue Man Group and More Among Make Music New York's 1,000 Free Concerts This Summer
Make Music New York is back with its 11th year of free, outdoor, public concerts all around the city on Wednesday, June 21, the first day of summer.
Since the festival first began in 2007, Make Music New York has become an eagerly anticipated harbinger of the season, with a dizzying array of events in all five boroughs.
Make Music New York is the flagship event of Make Music Day, celebrated in more than 50 U.S. cities with support from the NAMM Foundation, and a highlight of the international Fête de la Musique, taking place on June 21 in 750 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 May 12th. Likewise, restaurants, cafes, gardens, 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 15th.
Every year brings an exciting new batch of special events, and 2017 is no exception. From large-scale spectacles to street-corner sing-alongs, from funk to bluegrass to classical to electronica, MMNY has something for everyone.
New this year: the world-famous Blue Man Group is hosting a Drum-Off Contest with celebrity judges. Aspiring drummers will submit their entries in an online contest (blueman.com/newyorkdrumoff) opening May 10; semifinals will be held at the Astor Place Theater. The finalists will compete on June 21 at Make Music New York on the Joe's Pub stage at Astor Place, competing for a chance to win prizes from Blue Man Group, DW Drums, Vic Firth, Korg, VOX, and Sabian. A pulse-pounding battle is sure to ensue. On the same stage throughout the day, Joe's Pub will present a World Music Block Party (11 am - 6 pm), featuring seven groups representing diverse immigrant populations in NYC.
Another new event for 2017: Improv Everywhere's Mp3 Experiment #14 at Battery Park (6 - 7 pm). Mp3 Experiments are free, open- to-the-public, participatory audio adventures where attendees download a smartphone app and listen to synchronized secret instructions in a public space via headphones. In a very special collaboration between Make Music NY and Improv Everywhere, this program will debut a new composition to be performed by thousands of participants on Boomwhackers - lightweight, color-coded percussion tubes that are tuned to musical pitches by length. Park goers and passersby will be taken by surprise as a new music score is created before their eyes!
Meanwhile, with support from the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, the mobile Ella Fitzgerald Piano Bar will roam the streets of Harlem (11 am - 6 pm), celebrating the 100th anniversary of the immortal singer's birth. A pickup truck equipped with a keyboard and PA system will travel to half a dozen Harlem locations that resonate with Ella's music heritage. The route includes stops at Red Rooster/Ginny's Supper Club and Shrine, and ends with an afterparty at the Jazz Museum of Harlem. At each location, audience members will be given songbooks and mics so that they can sing their favorite Ella song with piano accompaniment.
The American Museum of Natural History will host French composer Gerard Grisey's Le Noir de l'Étoile (1 pm), an immersive score for six percussionists who play along to the amplified sonic emanations of pulsars, celestial objects that emit regular pulses of radio waves. Conductor Douglas Perkins leads an ensemble in this special program, with a pre-concert lecture presentation on pulsars (12:30 pm) by Mordecai-Mark Low, Curator, Department of Astrophysics, Division of Physical Sciences, Computational Sciences.Iconic New Yorker John Cage is commemorated with 49 Flutes. Marking the 40th anniversary of John Cage's 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs, this event will feature between 49 and 98 flutists performing citywide throughout the day. Cage's graphic score for this piece first appeared in the October 6, 1977 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, a gala issue celebrating their move to New York City.
In a more elemental vein, Dominican singer and folklorist Irka Mateo will lead Offerings and Songs to the Solstice Sun at Fort Tryon (5 - 7 pm). In collaboration with IgniVox Productions, she will guide the Make Music audience and local community through an ancestral Taino ritual procession honoring the summer solstice sun. With vocals, drums, guitar, bass and accordion, she and her collaborators will re-create the mix of the indigenous, African and European musical genres still played today in the Dominican Republic's popular religious celebrations and social gatherings.More world music awaits in Washington Square Park with Women of the Drum at Washington Square Park (6 - 7:30 pm), a special concert featuring performances by the all-female Brazilian percussion ensemble Fogo Azul and the all-female Japanese ensemble Cobu, who combine elements of the Japanese traditional Taiko drumming with rhythmic Tap dancing.
At the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, Cantus will perform a program of a cappella vocal works (4:30 - 7 pm), preceded by students from the Chamber Music Center of NY.
On the Waterfront, co-presented by Summer on the Hudson, will bring American piano duet repertoire right into the Hudson River. Using two concert grands donated by Piano Piano, and situated on Pier i, duo pianists Karl Larsson and Hitomi Honda will open the concert at 4:30 pm with music by David Lang, Emily Cooley, and Scott Wollschleger. This will be followed by two additional hours of American piano duo music, featuring music by Thea Musgrave, Gregory Mertl, and others, performed by students from Mannes Prep and other schools from around the city.
Staten Islanders will have reason to celebrate as The Kreischer Mansion hosts a South Shore Lawn Party to mark the launch of the historic mansion's summer programming. The Victorian porch will transform into a stage for Staten Island musicians, bands and performers to fill the South Shore with musical sounds usual reserved for the North side of the Island. Food and drinks will be available via local food trucks and caterers throughout the day.
Punk Island is back of course, with more than 100 bands with amps cranked to "eleven" at Randall's Island (note special date: Sunday, June 18, 12 - 7 pm).
A surprise hit of last year's MMNY, Inside the Bird Chorus takes place at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Wave Hill (Bronx), Fresh Kills Park (Staten Island), Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve (Queens) and Central Park. Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg and friends will perform dawn and dusk concerts in tandem with the local avian population at each location. Additional musicians adept at improvising with wildlife will be stationed in picturesque parks and recreation areas representing every borough.
Back for its fourth consecutive season, Porch Stomp is a festival within the Make Music New York festival that digs deep into the traditions of bluegrass, folk, old-time and roots music (note special date: Saturday, June 17, noon - 5 pm). The celebration features over fifty singer/songwriters and bands performing on the historic porches surrounding the timeless Nolan Park on Governors Island.
Since 2009, Make Music New York has featured Mass Appeal events for massed groups of a single instrument. 2017 brings participatory events for accordions, cellos, Djembes (West African hand drum), French horns, guitars, harmonicas, harps, mandolins, recorders, and ukuleles.
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.
Presenting partners include: American Museum of Natural History, Blue Man Group, Brooklyn Borough President's Office, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Public Library, Bronx Music Heritage Center, Carnegie Hall, Chamber Music Center of New York, Cornelia Street Cafe, DROM, Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, Face the Music, Fresh Kills Park, Governors Island, Improv Everywhere, Jazz Foundation of America, Jazz Museum of Harlem, Joe's Pub, Madison Square Park Conservancy, National Sawdust, New York City Guitar School, New York Public Library, Randall's Island, Red Rooster/Ginny's Supper Club, Riverside Park, Shrine, Wave Hill, West Harlem Community Preservation, and Westfield.