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Make Music New York

Brooklyn, NY         

Make Music New York (“MMNY”) is a singular festival of free concerts in public spaces throughout NYC, all on June 21st, the first day of summer. Since 2007, MMNY has partnered with more than 1,000 community organizations and local businesses to present over 8,000 free concerts for audiences of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, ranging from New York Philharmonic players and teenage garage bands, to Beijing opera companies and senior center choirs. Each year, over 5,000 musicians have performed on streets, plazas, sidewalks and parks for the event, earning praise for their “inspiring” (The New York Times) and “thrilling” (New Yorker) performances.


Make Music New York is based on the Fête de la Musique, a national musical holiday that originated in France in 1982. Out of the 726 cities in 108 countries that celebrate their own “Make Music” events on June 21, MMNY is now the largest outside of France. 


This year’s Make Music New York, held on June 21, 2014, was the biggest celebration in our organization’s 8-year history. With increased staff capacity in the form of four spring Fellows, and an expanded network of community partners, the event grew 30% larger than previous years: some 6,000 musicians performed 1,355 concerts in 433 locations throughout the five boroughs, bringing us closer to our goal of establishing a true citywide musical holiday on the first day of summer.


Along with thousands of free concerts, MMNY presents special, participatory projects each June 21st to harness New York’s unparalleled musical possibilities.


Recent highlights have included: 


> A performance of Henry Brant’s Orbits for eighty trombones at the Guggenheim Museum, named one of the year’s “ten memorable performances” by the New Yorker;


> "Archway," a 400-foot-long piano wire installation attached to the Manhattan Bridge, created by artist Eli Keszler and featuring a premiere by So Percussion using the "Archway" as accompaniment;


> "100 + BPM," the world premiere of Red Baraat’s work for 350+ marching band musicians, co-presented with NPR Music;


> A collaboration with Israeli video artist Kutiman, which will result in a video mash-up of MMNY performances, "Thru NYC," to be screened in Times Square in June 2015;


> An open-air performance of Xenakis’s Persephassa, with the audience listening from rowboats in the Central Park Lake surrounded by percussionists, named one of the year’s ten best concerts by both New York Magazine and Time Out New York; 


> A sing-it-yourself, world premiere performance of Philip Glass’s The New Rule in Times Square, conducted by Kent Tritle, in partnership with NPR Music;


> The world premiere of Jed Distler’s Broken Recordfor 175 keyboards and grand piano, covering the length of Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village.


 In addition, annual special projects include:


Mass Appeal, which, since 2009, gives New Yorkers without groups of their own a chance to take part in the festival by bringing together hundreds of musicians to play pieces written for single types of instruments. 2014 featured 18 Mass Appeals, including 500 guitarists playing rock songs together in Union Square, hundreds of wind band players performing Berlioz’s Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale in Bryant Park, a performance of Salvatore Sciarrino’s La Bocca, i piedi, il suono for saxophone quartet and 100 saxophones, and fifty flutists in Central Park performing Henry Brant’s Mass in Gregorian Chant for Multiple Flutes (“Mass for June 16″).


Punk Island, a daylong celebration of punk music, where the city’s loudest bands can play undisturbed. In its 6th year in 2015, more than 90 bands performed on Pier 1 in Staten Island.


Rhythm on Rikers, a nine-week series of percussion lessons for ten inmates at Rikers Island, culminating in a performance on June 21st for the full jail population.


Every year, we partner with hundreds of collaborating institutions to produce Make Music New York, including Business Improvement Districts across the five boroughs, dozens of NYPL branches and public schools, media partners NPR Music, Time Out New York, Metro New York, WNYC & WQXR, and major presenters including Carnegie Hall, the Kaufman Center, BAM, The Public Theater, American Opera Projects, River to River, Cathedral of St John the Divine, City Parks Foundation, and Friends of the High Line.


At the same time, our event welcomes all professional and amateur musicians, whether they are part of an institution or playing on their own front stoop. Professionals bring their work out of niche venues and into the open, in front of new audiences, while young and amateur musicians experience the joys of performing, for perhaps the largest crowds of their lives. Since Make Music New York take place in hundreds of public spaces across the five boroughs at no charge, they reach every New Yorker who uses these spaces – hundreds of thousands of people.


Beyond New York, MMNY has established itself as a model for other cities, creating the Make Music North America Consortium to promote the concept and foster nationwide partnerships. We currently work with Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and a dozen other cities that now organize their own Make Music events on June 21st.