Make Music Winter Returns to New York, Today
It's right around the corner - Make Music New York's sixth annual Make Music Winter takes place on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, the shortest day of the year. These thirteen participatory parades offer New Yorkers a unique opportunity to sing, play, and even dance their way through streets, parks, and other public spaces throughout the city.
Featured artists include members of acclaimed Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas, singers Onome and Jascha Hoffman, all-women Brazilian drumline Fogo Azul (formerly known as Batala NYC), keyboardist Karl Larson, conductors Thomas McCargar and Malcolm Merriweather, composers Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, Cameron Britt, Ravi Kittappa and P. Spadine, and others. For your convenience, here are the events in chronological order; new events are marked in red.
11:30 am - 12:45 pm: Winterize. Magnolia Plaza, Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
> Baritone Christopher Dylan Herbert presents the fourth performance of his participatory version of Franz Schubert's 1828 song cycle Winterreise at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The performance will migrate throughout the Garden, passing through locations that reflect the vivid imagery of Wilhelm Müller's poetry and Schubert's music. Audience members will provide the accompaniment via hand-held radios, emitting the original piano music. Radios are available to borrow for the first 50 attendees, or listeners may bring their own.
Noon - 1 pm: Cycles. 10 South Street, Battery Maritime Building, Manhattan.
> This wheeled event is the continuation of MMNY's winter bike parades. Organized by Pat Spadine and Sam Sowyrda, this concert-in-transit will feature echoes of Eine Brise by revolutionary composer Mauricio Kagel, RPM by Pat Spadine and new additions to the growing repertoire of participatory music making for bike riders. This year's pedaling will take place on the East River Bikeway, creating a loop from South Street to 23rd Street and back.
2 - 3 pm: Off the Afrobeaten Path. Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village.
> Led by members of the percussion section of Brooklyn based Afrobeat pioneers, Antibalas, participants on this percussion parade will weave through the streets of Greenwich Village, creating a rhythmic fabric of interlocking parts and sounds. Percussionists of every level are invited to bring shekeres, claves, agogo bells, cowbells, and any other handheld percussion that melds with the rhythmic web of the West African musical forms that make up Afrobeat.
4 pm (workshop); 4:30 - 6:30 pm: Flatfoot Flatbush. In front of Barclays Center, Brooklyn.
> Dancers, fiddlers, and pickers will parade down Flatbush Ave playing old-time tunes while flat footing, a form of percussive dancing from Appalachia. Participants will learn the fundamental steps of this rhythmic dance form and have a chance to practice with the Flatfoot Flatbush string band! Led by members of the City Stompers and MMNY's Porch Stomp organizers, the third annual Flatfoot Flatbush steps off in front of the M&T Bank on Flatbush Avenue, with stops along the way to play, dance, and sing, ending with an after party at neighborhood favorite, Rose's Bar & Grill.
4 - 5 pm: Prelude. West side of 5th Ave. at 54th St, Manhattan.
> Amateur and professional singers led by Thomas McCargar walk together under a half-dozen bridges and archways in Central Park, while singing or playing an arrangement of the Prelude movement of Bach's G-Major Cello Suite No. 1 very, very slowly. The result is a half-hour, slow-motion harmonic wash of sound and echoes conceived and produced by James Holt. All vocalists are welcome; no sight-reading experience is necessary. Instrumentalists are also welcome to join in following the same parts as singers.
4:32 (sunset) - 5:32 pm: African Echoes. Old Fulton Plaza, DUMBO, Brooklyn.
> A variation on the Make Music Winter 2015 event, Alpine Echoes, this year's call-and-response vocal piece is inspired by African vocal traditions. Participants will gather in DUMBO and embark upon a route that will ramble up Water Street, pass under the Manhattan Bridge Archway, and wind up at 68 Jay St. Bar for a happy hour reception. This event is for vocalists of all levels and will be co-led by vocalists Onome and Jascha Hoffman.
4:32 (sunset) - 5:32 pm: Kalimbascope. Jacob Mould Fountain, City Hall Park, Manhattan.
> Created by composer J.C. King, this parade of the inviting sounds of the kalimba (an evolution of the African mbira) will embark upon a mile long walk of Lower Manhattan, coming to rest in the resonant chambers and archways of 1 Centre Street. The plucking of this handheld folk instrument is amplified by a rolling speaker, creating a gentle, reverberating soundscape as the sounds play off of buildings and other city structures. All are encouraged to bring their own kalimbas (kalimbas will be available for the first 25 participants to borrow).
5 - 6:30 pm: The Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk. Gansevoort St., Southern end of the High Line.
> Composers Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, and Cameron Britt have created a free smartphone application that turns footsteps into twinkling metallic sounds, electric guitar chords, dulcimer notes, water splashes, car horns, and applause. By connecting them to small, wearable speakers, smartphones become instruments effortlessly played by strolling, sauntering, or sprinting down the High Line.
5 - 6:30 pm: Melrose Parranda. Railroad Park, The Bronx.
> The Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC) hosts its second annual Make Music Winter celebration in the Melrose section of the Bronx with a procession, or parranda-the Puerto Rican tradition of caroling. Based in the music of plena and other holiday songs from the island, this festive parade will be led by members of the Bronx music and cultural community, including Jorge Vázquez, José Rivera, Bobby Sanabria and Nicky LaBoy. It will wind its way through Melrose stopping at the various casitas in the neighborhood and ending at the casita Rincon Criollo.
5 - 6 pm: Parranda de Inverno. Rockefeller Plaza (between 49th - 50th Sts), Manhattan.
> To the beat of head-turning, diverse Brazilian sounds, the public is invited to travel through midtown Manhattan in a parade of rhythm and dance! Participants are encouraged to bring their Brazilian percussion instruments, or simply look, listen, and walk with this vibrant ensemble. The drumline will make its way around Midtown Manhattan, passing through 46th Street's Little Brazil and the festive plazas along 6th Avenue.
6 - 7 pm: Bell by Bell. Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan.
> Artist Tom Peyton distributes seventy color-coded bells to the crowd, one color per note. A team of conductors waves corresponding colored flags to lead the group in slowly moving music, written by a variety of composers. Now in its sixth year, this sonorous, atmospheric soundscape will return to the East Village, where it got its start at the first Make Music Winter in 2011. Participants will take to the streets, stopping at choice neighborhood locations to joyfully wave the flags and sound the bells, winding up at Two Boots East Village.
6 - 7 pm: Decantations. 271 Columbus St. (Stumptown Coffee Roasting), Red Hook, Brooklyn.
> Composer Ravi Kittappa and pianist Karl Larson invite the public to perform Kittappa's piece featuring the sound of sruti boxes (easily playable Indian drone instruments). Performers will split into three groups and walk divergent paths around the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, playing sruti boxes and a variety of sustaining instruments and electronic devices, at its end converging to create a large and varied drone resolution.
6 - 7:30 pm: Pilgrimage. 2537 Broadway (Bar Thalia, Symphony Space)
> Early Music singers led by conductor Malcolm J. Merriweather walk from West Park Presbyterian Church to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, carrying lanterns up the West Side while singing medieval melodies once sung along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. All singers are invited to join, from absolute beginners to early music specialists - no rehearsal necessary. Scores are available at http://makemusicny.org/winter-2016/pilgrimage/.
You'll find additional details at makemusicny.org/winter. No tickets are required for any Make Music Winter event, but if you're planning to review, please let me know so we can be in touch in case anything changes. You'll find images from previous festivals here, and the MMNY logo here.