Make Music Winter, Thursday, Dec. 21

Kalimbascope | J.C. King

Composer/conductor J.C. King will lead a procession of participants as they play kalimbas – an evolution of the African mbira, or thumb piano– through historic Madison Square Park. The plucking of these handheld folk instruments will be gently amplified through a speaker that moves in tandem with the musical parade to create an ephemeral soundscape realized in conjunction with Whiteout, a newly commissioned public art project by artist Erwin Redl (Austrian, b. 1963, lives and works in Ohio and New York City).

Whiteout is comprised of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a discrete, white LED light and suspended from a square grid of steel poles and cabling. The orbs are opportunistic, gently swaying with the wind currents from their positions of one foot above the ground plane. The white LEDs are animated in large-scale patterns superimposing a virtual movement on top of the kinetic movement of the spheres. The sequence of light is an incandescent treatment of urban public space across the dark seasons of the late fall and winter.

This program is produced in partnership with Madison Square Park Conservancy.

Gather at 4:15 pm at the south end of The Oval in Madison Square Park to get a feel for your kalimba and meet your fellow players. The procession will begin at 4:32 pm (sunset).

You can just show up, but if you know you are coming ahead if time, please send an email with the subject “Kalimbascope” to Specially fabricated kalimbas will be distributed on loan for the first twenty-five participants to arrive, or bring your own thumb piano, chime, hand bell or similar instrument to join in.

Composer J.C. King’s mutations of conceptual songwriting are focused in creating intimate public experiences that foster a shared memory of the magical and absurd. His recent works include Bells/Door (public participatory concert), collaborations with choreographer Mira Cook and abstract folk theater project AAware. With long time torch song ensemble Hello Lovers on hiatus, Mr. King is currently training, preparing and performing music in new directions.

Erwin Redl was born in Gföhl, Austria in 1963. He studied composition and electronic music at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna where he received his BA in 1990 and a Diploma in Electronic Music in 1991. He moved to New York in 1993 and received an MFA in Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts in 1995. His work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial where the artist lit the facade of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2010, Redl installed a monumental project across the front of the Wexner Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Redl was awarded a Percent for Art commission in 2014 by the City of New York for the New York Police Academy in Queens. He was tapped as one of four artists nationally to create work for the 2015 Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Redl’s successful proposal for Spartanburg, South Carolina, a city of 40,000 residents, opened in fall 2016.


Our mission is to protect, nurture, and enhance Madison Square Park, a dynamic seven-acre public green space, creating an environment that fosters moments of inspiration. As stewards, we strive to engage the community through our beautiful gardens, inviting amenities, and world-class programming. We believe that in an urban setting everyone deserves access to a park that allows for recreation, respite, and reflection.


Illustration by Kyle Lambert of Callout Creative