fOn May 22, 1981, Jack Lang was elected as France’s Minister of Culture. By October of that year, he appointed Maurice Fleuret, a prominent music critic and radio producer, as director of music and dance. Fleuret had became dissatisfied with the state of French culture as it related to music. He would soon refuse to report on concerts that only played Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Driven to understand contemporary music, he took over 30 trips to Africa and Asia and aspired to “create a new musical criticism.”
In 1982, a major study was published, claiming that 5 million French citizens, including 50% of young people, played a musical instrument. This shocking revelation inspired Fleuret and Lang to bring these musicians out from hiding. “Music will be everywhere and concert nowhere!” Fleuret exclaimed. And with that, 40 years ago on the Summer Solstice, Fête de la Musique, the first Make Music Day took place. Today, it is a massive annual event of free musical performances taking place around the entire globe.
Make Music Day is celebrated by more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries. In North America, the festival rings out across 1,000 locations in 98 cities. It has evolved into a world-wide phenomenon where music lovers and musicians (both amateur and professional) celebrate our unified appreciation of sound and song by playing for fun, for free, and for each other.
This year, our neighborhood is hosting 12 performances at eight locations. Jazz, blues, classical, Latin, and pop are a sample of sounds we’ll hear reverberating throughout our Upper West Side streets.
Below is a breakdown of the impressive events happening in our neighborhood on June 21:
Richard Tucker Park (65th and 66th streets, between Broadway and Columbus)
6:30 – 7:30pm: New York Mandolin Orchestra – Performing for over 90 years, the New York Mandolin Orchestra is one of the oldest continuously performing mandolin orchestras in the United States.
Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church (152 West 66th Street)
7:30 – 10:00pm: Chamber Music Center of New York (and The Knights Chamber Orchestra) – Chamber Music Center of New York is a company connecting the world to chamber music and The Knights are a highly acclaimed, Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra.
Pier i (500 West 70th Street in Riverside Park)
6:30 – 7:00pm: Jayson Greengold – a talented high school senior trumpet player and Make Music veteran.
7:15 – 8:00pm: Bloco La Conga – a rich community of musicians focused on education and outreach, spreading the word about the exciting sound of Santiago de Cuba’s carnaval.
Central Park Dana Discovery Center Plaza (Central Park West and West 81st Street)
6:00 – 7:30pm: Mass Appeal Ukeleles led by Gwendolyn Fitz – A talented ukulele player and songwriter, Gwendolyn Fitz merges storytelling and a theatrical background to her pop sounds and pleasant melodies.
Brandeis Garden (Corner of 84th and Amsterdam – Hosted by Council Member Gale Brewer)
5:15 – 6:00pm: Bloco La Conga – a rich community of musicians focused on education and outreach, spreading the word about the exciting sound of Santiago de Cuba’s carnaval.
West 103rd Street (between Amsterdam and Riverside)
4:00 – 4:30pm: Bloco La Conga – a rich community of musicians focused on education and outreach, spreading the word about the exciting sound of Santiago de Cuba’s carnaval.
4:45 – 5:30: Jayson Greengold – a talented high school senior trumpet player and Make Music veteran.
7:00pm – 7:30 – Elisse – A modern, pop, electronic singer-songwriter and musician. She is a bilingual artist attracting media attention from NY1, CNN and Telemundo.
West 104 st. Community Garden (8 West 104th Street)
5:00pm – 6:00pm: Gina Mazzara-Haver – a classical singer who has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space and others.
7:00pm – 8:00pm: Subway Coincidence – two violinists who ran into each other on a subway platform. They began performing together before they even knew each other’s names.
M.A.C.C. Wine Bar (51 West 106th Street)
1:00pm – 10:00pm: Jazz and Blues Preservation Host – a smooth, energetic, masterful jazz band featuring expert musicians- one of which has been playing for over 75 years.