Make Music New York Returns

Published on May 29, 2009, 7:27 pm
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Make Music New York, described by city officials as “one of the largest musical events in the city’s history,” is back for a second year of free concerts in public spaces throughout the five boroughs of New York City, all on the first day of summer.

Last year, nearly 2,000 musicians took part in the one-day celebration, which took place simultaneously with similar festivities in more than 300 cities around the world. MMNY performers represented virtually every musical genre, ranging from bluegrass and Hip-hop to Tuvan throat-singing. Concerts were held on streets, sidewalks, stoops, plazas, cemeteries, parks and gardens.

This year’s edition promises to be even bigger, with more than 800 events. On the classical/opera side, many of the city’s leading ensembles and presenters are participating, along with a number of community-based organizations. Highlights include:

A classical, new music, jazz, and opera block party on 64th St. (between B’way and Central Park West) near Lincoln Center, presented by Metro New York with the support of Steinway & Sons, The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at West Side YMCA, and the Lincoln Square BID. The event will feature six hours of music by performers from American Opera Projects, American Composers Orchestra, The Infinite Orchestra, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York Philharmonic Principal Brass, and New York City Opera.

12pm: American Opera Projects presents a sampling of new works, with additional performances by the barroom-cabaret trio of divas, Opera on Tap, selections from new operas by Rhymes With Opera, and a music and text collage by members of Collective Opera Company.

1 pm: As part of the orchestra’s Composers OutFront! Series, American Composers Orchestra presents Music Alive Composer in Residence Derek Bermel and his funk band Peace by Piece.

2 pm: Symphonic pop ensemble The Infinite Orchestra “blends the immediacy of rock with the epic sweep of classical music and with a generous helping of jazz, dance, and electronica.” An ASCAP showcase event.

3 pm: Jazz at Lincoln Center showcases 21-year-old pianist/vocalist/composer/bandleader Jonathan Batiste, leading an ensemble which includes Phil Kuehn (bass), Joe Saylor (drums), Matt Marantz (tenor sax), and Aaron Holbrook (alto sax). The Louisiana-born musician is a graduate of The Juilliard School and has been featured on all the stages of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home, Frederick P. Rose Hall at Columbus Circle.

4 pm: New York Philharmonic Principal Brass – a quintet comprising Philip Smith and Matthew Muckey, trumpets; Philip Myers, French horn; Joseph Alessi, trombone; and Alan Baer, tuba – performs music by Ellington and Bernstein, among others.

5 pm: New York City Opera concludes the day with a program of favorites, sung by sopranos Lielle Berman and Jennifer Tiller, mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, tenors Raúl Melo and Andrew Drost, and baritone Marco Nisticò. These talented young singers, joined by Maestro Gerald Steichen at the piano, will perform arias, duos, and ensembles by Rossini, Offenbach, Puccini, Bernstein, Donizetti, Bizet, and Verdi, as well as songs from Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella.

On Cornelia St. in the West Village (Bleecker and W. 4th), ComposersCollaborative inc (CCi) presents a three-hour block party with music by politically aware composers, 6:30 –9:30 pm. The program includes works by Louis Andriessen, Kitty Brazelton, Jed Distler, Joshua Fried, David T. Little, Marc Mellits, Frederic Rzewski, David Simons, and Sarah Kirkland Snider, among others.

Last year, Make Music New York and ComposersCollaborative were catalysts for bringing together The Mighty CCi House Band to perform Terry Riley’s minimalist manifesto, In C. The Mighty CCi House Band returns for MMNY 2008, featuring a core group of musicians associated with CCi’s “Serial Underground” series at the Cornelia Street Café, plus an impressive array of guest performers, including Kathleen Supové, Jenny Lin, Miguel Frasconi, Chris McIntyre, Kevin James, plus ensembles Newspeak, Squeezebox, SONYC string orchestra, Spin -17, and others.

A set by Newspeak kicks off the music making on the street. The evening unfolds with musical responses to 9-11, human rights issues, class system abuses, and the 1989 Romanian revolution. Finally, The Mighty CCi House Band concludes with attitude in Louis Andriessen’s Workers Union.

At Ollie’s public space, Broadway and W. 68th at 11 am, Face the Music performs Terry Riley’s In C. Made up of twenty students, ages 10 to 15, Face the Music was founded in the fall of 2005 by Special Music School Music Director Jenny Undercofler and composer Huang Ruo. In January of 2008, the group helped to re-open Merkin Hall with the premiere of Ira Mowitz’s Kol Aharon for violin, digital soundtrack, and ensemble. Face the Music has performed at Roulette, and recently played Michael Gordon’s Yo Shakespeare to a capacity audience on the Wordless Music Series.

Early music vocal ensemble Music Divine will perform works on the theme of peace in Central Park at 3 pm, inside the resonant underpass between the Children’s Zoo and the northeast exit from the main zoo, around 65th Street near Fifth Avenue. The group will sing music by Josquin Desprez, Janequin, Palestrina, J. S. Bach, Arvo Pärt, and others.

Harvestworks presents experimental electronica at Petrosino Square (Kenmare St. and Lafayette St.).

1 pm: Joshua Fried performs Radio Wonderland, an interactive work that turns live commercial FM radio into propulsive funk. 2 pm: Witness the wonders of
Guitarbot, a self-playing guitar created by the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR).

3 pm: Val-Inc, an “Afro-Electronica” composer from Haiti, performs a live set with keyboards and laptop.

Silent film music from the early 20th century will be performed by the North Brooklyn Community Orchestra at 5 pm at East River State Park in Williamsburg, Kent Ave and N. 9th St.

The Village Light Opera Group presents a fully staged production of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man on Leonard St. (Broadway and Church St.), with piano
accompaniment, 2 – 3:30 pm.

These are only a few of the hundreds of concerts, in every genre, taking place on June 21. In all five boroughs, from Orchard Beach in the Bronx down to the south shore of Staten Island, musicians of all kinds will be taking to the streets to perform for passersby, turning New York into a giant party – a chance for people to come out from under their headphones to listen, sing, and dance with their neighbors!

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