Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio invited MMNY to bring four Make Music Winter events to his inaugural open house at Gracie Mansion on Sunday. With some 7,000 attendees standing in the cold to get in, musicians played for the crowd for four hours, before going in to meet Mayor de Blasio.
Thanks to all the artists from A Love Riot, BombaYo, Tilted Axes, and Winterize, and thanks to everyone who sent in photos!
(The last day in our thirteen-day countdown to Make Music Winter!)
On Saturday, residents of South Williamsburg (and their friends, and you!) will be treated to an age old Caribbean Christmas tradition — the parranda — with La Trullita Navideña de Los Sures, presented by EL Puente CADRE (Community Artists’ Development & Resource Exchange) and BombaYo. The afternoon kicks off with a musical workshop at El Puente headquarters, and ends back at El Puente — many hours later! — with a festive party.
For members of El Puente and BombaYo, Saturday’s parranda will not be a “first” — many have stories of celebrating past Decembers with a parranda in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic and some even have memories of parrandas past in South Williamsburg itself.
We were fortunate to capture some of these stories on video. Here’s a sneak peak into what you can expect on Saturday!
(Day twelve in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)
Have you ever wondered what goes on in Phil Kline’s head when he’s composing the boombox pieces that have made him famous? Here’s what he has to say about Peregrine, which is back for Make Music Winter this year.
How did you come up with the idea for “Peregrine”?
The specific idea came from a festival called Evento in Bordeaux, France. They commissioned it. Like all my walking boombox pieces, it’s sort of a little symphony. It’s about getting from one place to another and going through transformations along the way.
What process did you use to compose the music?
I wrote it quickly, making mostly fast moving sections that flowed into the next fast moving section, a very steady pulse. Other than the beginning and end, it’s pretty much all allegro the whole way.
How is the piece put together?
The layers of the composition are all mixed onto cassette tapes which are then played simultaneously.
What has been your favorite moment from “Peregrine” of years past?
It’s only been done three times, but they all had memorable endings. The first one was planned to end in a medieval cathedral plaza at midnight, very atmospheric. The next one in Park Slope ended in an astroturf soccer field, which was tranquil and surreal. But last year’s was maybe even better. A few minutes from the end we saw this playground with a big jungle gym kind of thing and we all climbed up on it and became an installation.
(Day ten in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)
For Make Music Winter this year, El Barrio’s internationally renowned musicians Los Pleneros de la 21 bring to life a long-standing, heart-warming tradition from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, “Las Parrandas Navideñas”with music and dancing late into the evening.
Want to know where the Parranderos are on 12/21? Follow them @pleneros21 or search #parrandaslp21 on twitter! And check out the complete routehere.
Despite cold NYC winters (nothing like Christmas time on the Island), Los Pleneros are coming out in full force with lots of interesting moments and surprises in store.
Here are a few highlights to watch out for:
1) CASA Azul’s maraca making workshop at 2:30 is open to the public and family friendly, designed to get folks ready for the singing and parrandas that will be happening into the evening.
2) The stop at the Julia de Burgos Center is sponsored by Hispanic Federation, and they’ve graciously agreed to give gifts to kids that are present! (Limited supply, of course.)
3) The Casabe House stop is sponsored by the Caribbean Cultural Center/African Diaspora Institute, bringing the parranda traditions and music to senior citizens. It is open to the public, so long as you’re there to sing along!
4) La Fonda Boricua is one of the few Puerto Rican restaurants in El Barrio, and they’ve opened their doors again recently after a remodel.
5) Camaradas el Barrio again will be giving coquito shots to those parranderos present!
(Day nine in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)
Lots has happened in the life of baritone Christopher Herbert since he joined us for Winterize last Make Music Winter. First, he made it to #9 on Buzzfeed’s list of “OperaHunks”! (Kudos, Chris.) And even more deserved, his ensemble New York Polyphony was recently nominated for a Grammy in the Best Chamber Music / Small Ensemble Performance category. Bravo!
Ever wanted to accompany a Grammy-nominated “Opera hunk” on transistor radios?! It’s Schubert for the 21st Century. Chris is back for Make Music Winter this year, reprising his wonderful performance of Franz Schubert’s 1828 song cycle Winterreise at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Join us at 11:30 am on December 21 for a magical winter walk. More details here.
(Day eight in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)
The third installment in the Tilted Triology of Tilted Axes returns on December 21 with new electric guitar repertoire in honor of The Alamo, the Astor Place sculpture more commonly known as “The Cube”. Originally intended as a temporary sculpture installed in 1967, “The Cube” has become a beloved neighborhood landmark. In 2014, it’s relocating to another spot in the plaza. The milestone will be observed by new pieces from Tilted Axes parade creator Patrick Grant.
Here’s a sneak peak for what to expect on December 21. Members of the public are invited to join with light hand percussion. More details here.
(Day seven in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)Tom Peyton’sBell by Bellis back for Make Music Winter, this time migrating uptown to the enigmatic, Harry Potter-esque 6 1/2 Avenue. Yes. Sixth and A Half Avenue, a pedestrian walk way completed recently, in 2012, that links public spaces and allows you to circumvent otherwise crowded spots of the Times Square neighborhood. It’s one of the classic New York secrets, and we’re excited to share it with you in a musical way! Handbells often conjure up dusty images of holiday concerts in cold churches, with white gloves and gleaming gold. Not so here: ours are colorful, and the pieces – by composers such as Robert Honstein, Dan Edinberg (of The Stepkids), Amy Garapic, and Matt Marble — are unusual.
How did these pieces come to be? We reached out to some of the composers to get the backstory on what inspired their Bell by Bell compositions.
Writing Ladders was just as much about conceptualizing Bell by Bell as the piece itself. When I first heard that Make Music Winter would be happening, I started thinking through different ideas for the event and once the handbell and flag-conducting structure started to take shape Ladders was my practical experimentation with the idea. I had the chance to present a sketch of the piece at a salon-style event with other composers who were working on concepts for Make Music Winter. This was an awesome way to get feedback on Bell by Bell and also gave me new perspectives based on what others were planning. The pitches of the piece had been bouncing around in my head and following the salon it was a matter of fitting them together in a way that withholds and creates tension over the course of the piece. I’m excited to hear how it sounds ringing in between the skyscrapers of midtown this year.— Tom Peyton (Parade Creator) This piece – A Short Memory from a Long Drive– is my second I’ve written for Tom’s Bell by Bell event. The melody is drawn from the sound of wind whipping through sagebrush – a sound event I happened upon during a stop on a long road trip across the desert of Northern Nevada. Just as the melodies and sounds I heard on that trip are always shifting and changing, so is the variation in the motive itself through my own writing and through the purely chance encounters with different people playing the bells, and my own introduction of having people jingle their keys at certain points to help create a different texture. In the end perhaps my memory translated into music and sound will spawn another memory of people taking part in a great new wintry tradition that Tom Peyton has dreamed up. — Nat Evans “Shimmering Doorway” is inspired by the doorways of the mind. I hear them open, I hear them shimmer. 5 tones, 25 keys. Open many doors. In the Room of Ascending Stairs. All arrives upon arrival. <3— Matt MarbleInstrumental music is something far more innate for me than words. We had music/sound-communication before we had language. Strictly word-wise, my Bell By Bell piece is, in my mind, the most interesting way to position whole tone intervals together in the context of an ensemble where long notes are required and juxtapose them with a bass note (in this case D) that makes it all in the Dorian scale mode. But words don’t do instrumental music justice. It’s a feeling. Let the long notes/spaces in this piece help you think about things other than the music – family, leisure activities, or even if you successfully think about nothing and fall asleep, I’ll be thankful that this piece is a thought-guide without being a thought-controller. — Dan Edinberg
You can listen to live recordings of past Bell by Bell perfomances here. And join us December 21 at 5pm. Handbells will be provided — no musical experience or rehearsal is necessary to participate!
(Day six in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)
The key has been revealed!
Join Daniel Goode on December 21 for the Soho Gamelan Walk and drum on the hollow cast iron front of a Soho buildings in F Major, turning it into a musical instrument. More details here.
Which Soho building is in the key of F?
Here’s a clue:
(The fifth in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)
On December 21, Early Music singers led by conductor Harold Rosenbaum will walk from the Park Avenue Methodist Church to the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, carrying lanterns through Central Park while singing medieval melodies from the Cantigas de Santa Maria and the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat — melodies that were once sung along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela
The Cantigas de Santa Maria are said to have been written by King Alfonso X of Castile, in the 13th century, and are quite musically interesting. They form one of the largest collections of monophonic (solo) songs from the Middle Ages. The collection is characterized by the mention of the Virgin Mary in every song, while every tenth song is a hymn. (You can download the pieces in advance here.)
And King Alfonso is just as interesting: he was a great supporter of astronomy, and today a crater of the moon is named after him.
Join us on December 21 to experience the pieces for youself. Singers and aficionados of all levels welcome!
(Day four in our countdown to Make Music Winter. Join us every day between now and December 21 for a new feature on one of our Make Music Winter parades.)
For this year’s Make Music Winter, Jim Holt is back with Bach and a third year of Thru Line: a tag-team performance of J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, on the Brooklyn-bound G train.
If you play violin, viola, accordion, or any other portable instrument, we are still accepting participants: Click here to join!
We asked some veteran Thru-Line participants to share with us their favorite moments from parades past. Here’s what they had to say about their experiences soloing on the subway:
Could this be the new platform for the introduction of the public to classical goodness? I got applauded at a few stops! Grateful smiles, thank you wishes. Everything I would hope for from a concert in a regular venue, but even more special because it was a surprise. I loved that everyone listening to all of us felt that classical music was accessible to them and that it belonged to them just as much as it belonged to the musicians on the G train this day!
— Nicole Camacho, flute (Thru-Line 2011, 2012)
When I got off the train at Bedford-Nostrand, a woman who had been on the train with me stopped to talk to me. She was all beaming smiles and asked me “what was going on today” because of all the music on the train. I filled her in, and she absolutely loved it. She really was so excited about the whole thing, and said “You made my day!”
— Peri Mauer, Violin (Thru Line 2011, 2012)
The G-line is probably one of the dullest train lines in the entire NYC subway system, but I felt that things became a little more alive because of this project. I really believe music can affect people in the most discreet but profound way. Here are some memorable moments I had:
A couple of noisy high school kids came on the train and fell silent when I started playing.
I was waiting on a platform while playing a pass of the piece with only pizzicato, a scruffy looking guy came by, saw and heard me, smiled at me and said, “Bach!” (He turned out to be the class of ’80 graduate from Manhattan School of Music, majoring in piano)
2 young ladies, as I got off one of the trains, told me, “Oh no! (looking into the train) There’s no one here! (then turned back to me) We were waiting for you!” Apparently they were there just to check out this project. It’s really pretty awesome to know that.
— Chern Hwei, Violin (Thru Line 2011, 2012)
This was so much fun! People really enjoyed the piece; applause after every performance! A girl at Hoyt-Schermerhorn said her girlfriend–who plays the violin and lives out of town–told her to take the G train to specifically listen to “Thru-Line”. She wanted to know if she was in the right spot, and I explained to her how the piece worked. We got on the train together, and I know she took it at least one more stop.
— Cheryl Krugel-Lee, Viola (Thru Line 2012)
And if you didn’t catch it last year, you read the behind-the-scenes interview with Parade Creator Jim Holt here.