Twilight ​Chorus ​(for ​H​umans) – Make Music New York Special Project

It’s that time of season where we like to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make Music New York community, can have a better understanding of the many great ways to enjoy our music celebrations on Thursday, June 21st (mark your calendar!). Look for regular blog posts outlining events across neighborhoods and boroughs, featuring amazing and engaging musicians from the New York area.

This week, Make Music New York’s Executive Director, James Burke, spoke with composer ​Pete M. Wyer​ about 2018 Make Music New York’s​ special project “Twilight ​Chorus ​(for ​H​umans).”


James Burke: Hi Pete! I’m thrilled to be presenting your latest special project “Twilight (for humans)” as part of this summer’s Make Music New York on June 21st. I know that you have worked with MMNY in the past as well. Can you share with our fans some of your history with the festival?

Pete Wyer: In 2014 I created a setting of Dylan Thomas’s poem ​”​And Death Shall Have No Dominion​”​ for a headphone​d​ choir. The idea was that singers would each have a specially created app which synchronized their device to an atomic clock and at exactly 11.00am on June 21st it would start playing a backing track ​from which ​singers could choose soprano, alto, tenor or bass ​parts ​or ​play along with an​ instruments. People began singing wherever they were in N​ew York City​ and began walking converging routes to an assembly point at Rockefeller Park​.​ ​S​o a soprano walking down one street might find she was in sync and in harmony with a tenor in the next street. It started out as individuals​ and ​small groups​ ​and ended up with a full choir and band, ​at which time ​everyone took off the​ir​ headphones and all sang together.



JB: Back to “Twilight ​Chorus ​(for ​H​umans),” can you explain the program for our followers and speak to the inspiration behind the concept?

Pete: I have always been strongly influenced by birds​ong​ at dawn and at dusk. Not only the sound​, ​but the spatiality​ as well.​ ​I​t’s an incredible experience in spring to walk through parkland or woodland at dawn and listen to the ever shifting kaleidoscope of sound as you move​. In​ my native England​, ​this is mostly blackbirds, robins, chaffinches, goldfinches, wrens, song thrushes and in more recent times, parakeets.

In 2016 I made a piece for WNYC’s ​”​New Sounds Liv​e” at the Winter Garden which was inspired by ​MIT ​Professor Shigeru Miyagawa’s​ ​hypothesis that human speech is evolved from birdsong. In that piece, ​en​titled ​”​Song of the Human​,”​ I used the pitch, rhythm, tone and dynamic of human speech as a start point. With ​”​Twilight Chorus (for Humans)​,​” I have taken recordings of birdsong, slowed them down and transcribed them for singers. ​During the​ performance​, ​the singers ​will be​ dispersed across an area of Brooklyn Botanical Garden, again synchronized via an app. The audience are invited to experience the piece by moving between the voices – there​ is​ no single version of the piece​ and ​each person’s experience will be unique to them. The piece slowly evolves and brings the singers together at the end with more identifiably ​”​human​”​ music.


JB: How can Make Music New York fans enjoy the program and what should they expect?

​Pete: T​he piece will be a unique experience​ for performers and spectators alike. ​I​t begins with sixteen singers spread out, singing simultaneous solos that are transcribed from birdsong​. ​That’s a long way from a Bach chorale! ​B​ut ​it ​ends in a more intimate place with singers gathered together. I always hope my pieces in some way move people toward a deeper connection to each other​ and​ to nature​.​ ​And​ if it makes them smile or touches them in some way, I’m happy.

Special Project – Live At The Archway!

It’s that time of year where we want to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make Music New York community, can have a better understanding of the many great ways to enjoy Make Music New York on Thursday, June 21st (mark your calendar!). Look for regular blog posts outlining events across neighborhoods and boroughs, featuring amazing and engaging musicians from the New York area.

Make Music New York’s Executive Director, James Burke, is back! This week he spoke with ​Clara Schuhmacher from the DUMBO Improvement District about partnering on a special project for the popular “Live At The Archway” series​.


James Burke: Hi Clara, thanks for joining me!  Make Music New York has a long history of activating special projects in the DUMBO neighborhood in partnership with the DUMBO Improvement District. Perhaps you could share how the relationship began?

Clara: We’re always down to do crazy and amazing things in Dumbo, and especially in the Archway, which is an epic public space in an epic city (no, we’re not biased or anything). So when an interesting project comes our way, we’re game – and MMNY always has interesting projects!

We were first connected to MMNY in 2011, when Nick Franglen proposed playing a 24-hour-duet with the Manhattan Bridge and its cyclists (he played Theremin). Two years later, MMNY helped us turn the Archway into a giant string instrument, for the premiere of a piece by Eli Keszler featuring So Percussion. Those two projects have lived on as office legends, but there have been many other wonderful projects, both in summer and in winter.

It’s been great fun working together from the Dumbo perspective. And of course my personal connection to MMNY runs deep. My brother was one of the original volunteers, and I got looped in organizing Bushwick when I first moved to Brooklyn. Fast forward to 2013, when I joined the organization as Director of Operations for three festivals. And now here we are, continuing to work together to make magic happen in public spaces. I love how New York works this way.


JB: Live At The Archway provides such a cool vibe for the community to enjoy live music. What is your philosophy in curating the space and celebrating the community?

Clara: Thanks James, appreciate the kind words! One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to spend most of my days out and about, chatting one-on-one with retailers, business owners, artists, residents – everyone who touches the neighborhood in some way. It’s the best way to get direct insight and feedback into what the neighborhood needs and desires. A lot of my curation comes down to gut. I know this place, it’s my place now too, and I trust my instincts on what works and what doesn’t work.

What’s fun – but also challenging – about curating Live at the Archway is the diversity of the audience: all ages, all kinds of relationship to the neighborhood and myriad musical tastes. It’s always a balance, thinking through acts who will offer something to such an audience. Of course, I can’t appeal to everyone every week, which is why the season is so eclectic–my core audience comes back week after week, and they know that if they’re not super into an act one week, chances are the next week will be their favorite. And then there’s the practical side: the Archway is massive, and acoustics challenging. I’m looking for acts who will sound beautiful in the space, and who are dynamic performers, have that extra bit of stage flair, and can hold the “room.”

What really makes #LiveAtTheArchway a celebration of community, however, is that it’s not just a concert series. It’s music, it’s visual art, it’s spectacle, it’s tech. We build a pop-up gallery on site every week, show the work of a different DUMBO artist inside, and lead the audience in a community art project on the outside. We feature a different creative company from the neighborhood weekly as well, and invite them to bring their work out into the public, test it, show it off. And of course, we program a lot of DUMBO musicians too.


JB: We’re excited to be partnering with you to present Natalia Clavier as part of our June 21st music celebrations. How would you describe her music to Make Music fans? What can Make Music New York expect of the show?

Clara: The question all musicians dread! I’m not sure if Natalia would agree, but to me her music feels very tango electronica, without being tango. (Full disclosure: I’m Argentine and love this kind of stuff.) It’s got great beats, it’s a little hip hop, it’s a little jazz, she sings in Spanish and in English. Really: it’s all chill, summery vibes – perfect for sitting in the Archway with a drink on the longest day of summer! Bring a picnic, get a drink from our Archway bar, and enjoy. Show is early, 6:15pm. And if Argentina wins their World Cup that day, get ready for some cheering too! 😉


WTC @ WTC: The Well-Tempered Clavier at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial Plaza

It’s that time of year where we want to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make Music New York community, can have a better understanding of the many great ways to enjoy Make Music New York on Thursday, June 21st (mark your calendar!). Look for regular blog posts outlining events across neighborhoods and boroughs, featuring amazing and engaging musicians from the New York area.

This week, we’re talking to Jenny Undercofler, creator of the special project: “WTC @ WTC: The Well-Tempered Clavier at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial plaza.” Our Executive Director, James Burke, took a few minutes off of his busy schedule to ask her a few questions!


James Burke: Hi Jenny! I’m thrilled that WTC @ WTC, which debuted as a highlight of our 2017 season, will be returning as part of the Make Music New York celebrations on June 21st this summer.  What was your inspiration in creating the concept?

Jenny: Well, partly it was just playing with names – I am a pianist and I was writing “WTC” for some program or other – and I thought “wow, playing the Well Tempered Clavier on the World Trade Center Memorial Plaza would be epically cool.” And, because it’s Make Music New York, epic things can happen!

JB: Make Music New York is all about uniting New Yorkers in our shared social spaces through the power of music and no public space is more essential to the city than Memorial plaza. How is the program integrated into the layout of plaza itself?

Jenny: The project integrates four pianos into the Memorial Plaza space – one at roughly each “corner”. What is lovely is that at that time of day – from 5 to 8 PM – there are so many different reasons that people are wandering through that space. People commuting home from work; tourists visiting the city; families who live nearby, with their children and dogs….

JB: What are you most looking forward to in the second incarnation of WTC @ WTC?

Jenny: Really, just more of what I enjoyed the first time. I get to see many of my pianist friends and colleagues, and they bring their students and friends, and we get to “nerd out” with JS Bach for a few hours, in public, without the constraints of the concert hall.

JB: How can Make Music New York fans best enjoy the performances and what should they expect?

Jenny: Really, just pick a time and enjoy one of two ways: either camp out at one piano for the time you have; or divide it up between multiple pianos. Last year, we had pianists ‘cycle’ from one piano to the next, but this year we’re going to have the pianists stay in place, just to make everything a little bit more relaxed.

Thank you so much to Jenny for her time, and we look forward to another great WTC @ WTC!


Partering with Community Gardens

We are proud to partner with many different communities and organizations throughout the five boroughs. The more diverse the groups we partner with, the more people we can engage with on Make Music Day (June 21st – mark your calendars!), and the better we can make real our mission of celebrating music with the people of New York City.

One such community is GreenThumb Community Gardens. GreenThumb supports over 550 gardens throughout the five boroughs. They put on workshops that provide supplies to garderes, as well as teach gardeners anything from basics to advanced farming techniques. Some gardens are meant as a social and open space, others are small farms as oases in the city, and many are a combination of both!

Community gardens share a vision with Make Music New York, in that they believe in bringing together communities, relaxation, and believing in individuals to be the backbone of their program of all ages and backgrounds to share their passions.

Perform in a community garden

We have 12 community gardens signed up as venues so far – these gardens are perfect for singer-songwriters, acoustic acts, chamber groups, and even bands! In this more intimate setting, surround yourself with green space as you bring music to your community in a unique way.

From GreenThumbs: “Music in the gardens can be the perfect opportunity to get to know your neighbors and other organizations! Visit to find a list of gardens that will be participating.”

Sound like your cup of tea? Once you’ve visited to see the list of gardens, register here to perform in your local community garden!


Artist Sign Ups

May 11th is the artist sign-up deadline…sign-ups end in less than a month! Do you have a band or an act that you’d love to perform for your neighborhood? You can register here!

And, even if you don’t want to perform yourself, tell your friends! Let them know about us – Make Music New York is a great opportunity to grow a fan base as an artist, or to reach more people and grow awareness of a venue.

As we have said before, it’s the people of New York City make this festival possible, and its their (and our!) music we celebrate.


Why We Love Libraries

We at Make Music New York have a deep appreciation for libraries and the many benefits they provide their community. They bring a focus on learning and face-to-face interaction, and provide a center in which a neighborhood or community can ground itself. They provide means for low-income young adults and seniors alike to access the internet.

Overall, public libraries provide services, access to the arts for all, and a space that few other community centers provide, all in the name of a love and respect for the arts. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, we are proud to partner with public libraries throughout the five boroughs to bring unique performances to the communities supported by those libraries.

Image courtesy of Curbed

100+ BPM

On of the more notable library activations for Make Music New York came back in 2014, on the front steps of the Brooklyn Public Library. NPR commissioned a piece from Sunny Jain, founder of Brooklyn-based band Red Baraat, “that would kick off the season in massive, marching-band style.” Jain wrote 100+ BPM, a reference both to the tempo of the piece and to the core goal of the performance: “Brooklyn Public Music.”

All brass players and percussionists were welcome to participate, and almost 350 musicians came out to perform the piece! Professional drum lines, community marching bands, jazz musicians, samba musicians, and tons of amateur musicians came out to play! With hours of fun music-making and positivity, 100+ BPM ended a successful event for NPR, BPL, and Make Music New York.

NPR even put together a video recap of the event:


Performing at a library

Not all library events have to be that extensive! 100+ BPM brought a huge group of people together, but library communities come in all shapes and sizes – so do their events! We’re always looking for great ideas for library performances; they can be as small as solo acts, or involve an entire community.

We’re always looking for more performers – if you feel strongly about performing at your local library, we can help make that happen. Register for Make Music New York 2018 here – once you’ve create your profile, peruse the list of venues for that library!

Don’t see it there? Reach out to us at and we can help register them as a venue to make that performance happen! We want libraries to celebrate music in their communities with artists who live and breathe those communities.

And, as always, stay tuned to this blog for all the newest Make Music New York information!


Featuring Some of our Favorite Venues!

One of the aspects of Make Music New York that gets us most excited is its effect on communities throughout New York.

With the opportunity to select the performers and audiences they would like to attract, host venues have the ability to put on a unique event tailored to the audiences who experience it. Venues can choose between the many artists who have registered to perform at Make Music New York 2018 to engage their neighborhoods as they see fit.

Why is this possible with Make Music New York? Our network of partnerships with artists across all five boroughs is available to host venues, and vice versa!

Our mission is to allow musicians of any genre, skill-level, or demographic to perform – we hope to sign up diverse and cool venues so that each artist and venue partnership can reach the audiences they hope to reach.

If you’re wondering how to register as a performer or as a venue, look no further than the “register” tab on the main menu of our website,!

We wanted to feature a few of the coolest types of venues from previous Make Music New York festivals to show the different kinds of locations that have participated. Maybe one of these venues will spark the inspiration to host your own performance for Make Music New York 2018!

Uptown Grand Central Community Plaza

Grand Central Community Plaza Performance

One of our favorite venues for both summer and winter festivals, the Uptown Grand Central Community plaza has hosted a multitude of events from the Ella Fitzgerald Piano Bar to the Solstice Soul train. Uptown under the Metro North train tracks, this plaza is a shining example of a community space that brings East-Harlemites (and other New Yorkers!) together in celebration of Music.

Community plaza shows are awesome simply because they take place in public spaces where communities live and interact on a day to day basis. New York has so many wonderful open spaces throughout the city, and we’d love nothing more than to fill each one up with performances on Make Music day.


Battery Park

Moving downtown, Battery Park has played host to several unique programs. One such notable program from 2017 was the Mp3 Experiment Number Fourteen produced by Improv Everywhere in partnership with Make Music New York.

The Mp3 Experiments are free, open-to-the-public participatory audio adventures where attendees carry out secret instructions in public spaces, often to hilarious results! Experiment Number Fourteen featured the use of Boomwhackers – lightweight percussion tubes tuned to musical pitches. The park provides a wonderful open atmosphere as well as access to audiences beyond those attending for Make Music New York. Random passers-by get to experience the performances as well!


New York Public Libraries

Libraries are a perennial fixture in the Make Music New York lineup. So much so, that you can expect a more detailed post about Library venue options coming soon! Libraries represent havens of support for the arts, and their goals and missions align closely with ours. We have programs at libraries throughout the five boroughs, and your neighborhood library is likely involved!

And if it isn’t, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your local library host performances as well? If you have a library in mind, reach out to them (or us!) and see if it’s something they’d be willing to do! Previous shows include the Improvisational Composer’s Ensemble at NYPL – Tompkins Square, Thunder and Sunshine at NYPL – Jerome Park, and Echoes of Antiquity at BPL – Borough Park.


Greene Street, between Grand & Broome

Some of the most exciting shows at Make Music New York are the ones that seem to spring up from the city itself! Concertos for Buildings takes over an entire Soho block as hollow, cast-iron facades serve as resonant instruments for performing percussionists. This recurring program has expanded over the years to feature multiple concertos from a variety of performers, ranging from professionals to students.

The street corner literally serves as a vehicle for music – in a city that at many times feels as if it’s a part of its music, Concertos for Buildings makes that metaphor a reality!


Remember, if you’re a musician looking for a place to play – or if you have a garden, restaurant, sidewalk, or other outdoor space and want to host a show – you can sign up and find the perfect match for your Make Music New York concert. It’s easy and it’s free!

Have any other questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Make Music New York Presents Mass Appeal Concerts!

Mass Appeal Guitars

For the thirteenth consecutive year, Make Music New York is proud to announce the return of our signature concert series Mass Appeal. Mass Appeal concerts embody the essence of what Make Music New York is about – they gather musicians of all skill levels with an interest in a particular instrument to premier locations across the city to perform together.

Anyone can perform, from polished professionals to the amateur and curious – just grab your instrument and get playing! From the rusty harmonica player to the professional cellist, all are welcome to join these epic events, all taking place outdoors on June 21st.


Mass Appeal Concerts are in the works featuring:


  • Guitars
  • Bucket Drumming
  • French Horns
  • Harmonicas
  • Mandolins
  • Recorders
  • Ukuleles
  • And many more!

We’re still looking for Project Managers for many of these concerts! If you would like to run a Mass Appeal Concert for a particular instrument, email us at with “Mass Appeal” in the subject line.

Most importantly, if you have a new idea for a Mass Appeal Concert that you don’t see on this list, reach out to us as well! We always welcome new concert ideas and want to turn your dream into a reality.

Alternatively, if you are looking to perform at a Mass Appeal, be sure to check out our previous post detailing how to sign up as an artist. And, as always, if you have any questions, let us know by sending an email to

Look out for more information on Mass Appeal Concerts in the future, and stay tuned to this blog as we’ll be giving you updates about host venues, special projects, performers, and everything else related to Make Music New York 2019.

Get Excited For Make Music New York 2019!

Though the weather hasn’t quite warmed up yet, days are getting longer and spring is just around the corner. What does this mean?

It’s time to start thinking about Make Music New York 2019!

As you may or may not know, Make Music New York is the largest single-day festival in New York City. Every year, over 5,000 musicians perform 1,000+ concerts at over 400 unique venues. We strive to celebrate the musician in all of us, connect New Yorkers to their communities and with each other, bring bold new artistic creations to life, unite diverse communities in a spirit of celebration, and energize the shared social spaces that make NYC a cultural capital.

The Make Music New York team is kicking it into high gear securing permits, developing special projects, and planning logistics for the big day (June 21st, mark your calendars!). But, while we do our job, you have an even more important role in making this year’s festival a success – signing up as a venue, a performer, or both!

It’s the artists and venues throughout the city that bring people together to celebrate music and community. You guys are the ones who inspire, and who make this wonderful day possible.

And so, now begins our push to sign up as many venues and artists as possible!

Playing piano for the Make Music NY Festival

For Venues

There are all sorts of ways to host a performance for Make Music New York. Whether you are an individual with an inspired idea for a show you’d like to see, a community organization looking to engage and energize your neighborhood, or a business looking to host, you are the foundation of Make Music New York.

To sign up as a host venue, go to our website (LINKED HERE) and click on “summer registration.” You will be guided through the process from there! Once you have registered, you can either search out artists in our system that you want to perform at your venue, or you can relax and let artists come to you with requests to perform.

Either way, once you have registered, let us handle licenses, insurance, and permits so that you can focus your efforts on giving back to your community through amazing music.

Fans getting excited at Make Music NY

For Artists

Artists provide the magic for Make Music New York. They connect with communities and neighborhoods on an individual and personal level, and are what make this festival special. Our dream is to have as many people perform as possible – anyone, regardless of skill level, genre, age, or demographic is welcomed to do so.

To sign up as a performer, go to our website (LINKED HERE) and click on “summer registration.” Similarly to registering as a venue, you will be guided through the process from there. Once registered, look around for venues at which you’d love to perform! We’ll have all sorts of venues, whether you are looking for a park, something in your neighborhood, or a place to support your style of music.

The more venues and performers that sign up, the more successful the festival will be – we’ll be able to engage more communities, more neighborhoods, and more people through the beauty of music.

So, even if you don’t have a place to host or don’t want to perform yourself, tell your friends! Let them know about us – Make Music New York is a great opportunity to grow a fan base as an artist, or to reach more people and grow awareness of a venue. At the end of the day, it’s the people of New York City make this festival possible, and its their (and our!) music we celebrate.

Lastly, are you interested in our special programs for this year? Stay tuned, because we’ll begin posting previews for select events in the next few weeks. We’re going to have some really great programs this year – if you haven’t already, subscribe to our email newsletter and follow us on social media for updates on all things Make Music New York!

Wild Times in Lower Manhattan

Wednesday June 21st was the 11th Annual Make Music New York, filled with beautiful, unique and exciting musical happenings. Keep an eye out here for more images from the big day, starting with these awesome pictures from Improv Everywhere and their Mp3 Experiment #14 in Battery Park.

Thanks to our friends in the Parks Dept. and to everyone who came out for this big fun!


Catch Make Music New York in the media!

As we get closer to the Summer Solstice, June 21st, our friends in the media are telling it like it is:

“Year after year, Make Music New York remains one of the best reasons to call in sick and spend the day wandering around the city.”

Time Out New York

Check out the full article here

“Make Music is one of the best things that have happened to New York musical life in the past decade”
Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise


Also, keep tuned to The New York Times for more updates like this one


The Make Music New York Team has been working furiously to finalize all performances for the 11th run of our festival, and we are absolutely ecstatic to turn New York City into a “totally outsized sonic street party” — NPR

Stay tuned, more information after the weekend!



—-Make Music New York Team