Make Music Winter, a free outdoor musical celebration with exuberant and participatory parades, performances, and events throughout New York and in dozens of U.S. cities, will return on the Winter Solstice, Tuesday, December 21.
The annual event welcomes people of all ages and musical abilities to celebrate the joy of making music with fellow community members. Since its start in 2011, Make Music Winter has provided a way for music enthusiasts to meet up, march and play through public spaces, and make music with bells, electric guitars, voices, percussion, and more unusual instruments.
In keeping with the gift-giving season, sound-making toys will make their Make Music Winter debut in The Mutant Toy Parade, a participatory composition by Argentina-based artist Laureano Cantarutti premiering in six U.S. cities. Children and adults are invited to come and experiment with “circuit-bent” toy steering wheels, recordable buzzers, and disfigured talking dolls designed by Cantarutti and assembled by local musicians in each city. Participants will then parade through the streets playing music using the toys and hand percussion instruments, which will be free to take home as a holiday gift for further music-making experimentation. Mutant Toy Parades will take to the streets in New York (NY), Montclair (NJ), Salem (OR), Knoxville (TN), Toledo (OH), and Altoona (PA).
Back for the second year, Rhythm Band Instruments (RBI) is celebrating Make Music Winter across the country, providing over 300 instruments ranging from bells to Boomwhackers in eleven cities for participatory winter music. RBI’s bells will star in New York (NY)’s “Bell by Bell,” from 6:00-7:00 PM in SoHo (at Elizabeth St., between Prince and Spring St.). This event has become a Make Music Winter tradition, with volunteers from Elizabeth Street Garden handing out color-coded bells to revelers who get a crash course in handbell basics, then play collectively with a team of conductors. Forty miles up the river in Ossining/Briarcliff (NY), RBI instruments will be part of a Make Music Winter day of concerts, interactive music events, workshops and music lessons, offering something for everyone. In the small town of Land O’ Lakes (WI), RBI will offer instruments for beginner ukulele and hand bell classes. Other RBI-supported events will take place in Montgomery (AL), Toledo (OH), Salem (OR), Montclair (NJ), Altoona (PA), Federal Way and Gig Harbor (WA), and Milwaukee (WI).
But nothing compares to New York City, the birthplace of Make Music Winter, where nearly 20 musical gatherings and parades will enliven neighborhoods across the boroughs, from Flatfoot Flatbush in Brooklyn to the Melrose Parranda in the Bronx. New York’s events (in addition to Bell by Bell and the Mutant Toy Parade) will include:
- “African Drumming” - 2:00-4:00 PM at the Plaza at 300 Ashland, Brooklyn. Join a drum circle master class led by Brooklyn Music School to learn and perform rhythms from the Congo and West Africa on djembes and congas supplied by the school.
- “Flatfoot Flatbush” - 4:00-6:00 PM at Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Presented with Porch Stomp, City Stompers, and the North Flatbush Avenue Business Improvement District and celebrating its eighth consecutive year, dancers, fiddlers, and pickers will parade down Flatbush Avenue playing old-time tunes while flatfooting, a form of percussive dancing from Appalachia.
- “Standing Still” - 10:45-11:15 AM in Midtown Manhattan. Musicians of all persuasions with an instrument that can be played while moving – acoustic guitars, horns, strings, percussion, you name it – will join music group Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars in a 30-minute participatory parade through Midtown South, including a stop at Herald Square at precisely 10:59am when the sun “stands still,” and during which the entire ensemble will mark the occasion with a magic minute to surprise onlookers.
- “HONK NYC! presents Radiant Revelry” - 6:00-7:00 PM in Greenwich Village. HONK NYC's fourth Winter Solstice procession is a cathartic parade of music and dance that commemorates the lives of those lost after two years of COVID-19 and celebrates a time of revitalization and hope. The parade meanders through the West Village to a finale in Astor Place Plaza just as a separate parade, “Tambor Tuesday Street Jam”- 6:30-7:30 PM- sets off in a route through the East Village to the legendary club Drom. “Tambor Tuesday,” presented in partnership with the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, features music from Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Samba and Reggae traditions and stars musicians from Mambembé Music, Afro Cuban rumba with Kikiriki Biquey, and People of Earth.
- “Harlem Solstice Jam” - 5:00-7:00 PM at Uptown Grand Central. Enjoy a rollicking evening of brass, Samba, and marching band music. The program features performances by the Afro-funk/Latin/New Orleans-style brass outfit the Underground Horns; Batalá, an all-women Afro-Brazilian Samba Reggae percussion band; the Harlem-based Marching Cobras, and much more.
- “Melrose Parranda” - 6:00-7:00 PM starting at the Bronx Music Hall. The Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC) hosts its 7th consecutive Make Music Winter program in the Melrose section of the Bronx with a procession or parranda, the Puerto Rican tradition of caroling. Based on the music of plena and other holiday songs from the island, this festive parade will be led by members of the Bronx music and cultural community, including Jorge Vázquez, Matthew Gonzalez, and Bobby Sanabria. Each stop along the parranda will be a different casita, the little houses that evoke the countryside in Puerto Rico.
- “The Mobile Hallelujah” - 6:00-8:00 PM. Starting from the steps of the main branch of the New York Public Library and wending its way among six other iconic midtown locations - One Vanderbilt, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle, and Lincoln Center - participating singers will perform seemingly spontaneous pop-up concerts of Handel’s celebrated choral masterpiece, the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Additional Make Music Winter events around the country include:
- Long Beach, CA - Open Jam with OLLI Recorders, Club of Harps, and The Jazz Angels. Everyone is invited to jam with Make Music Long Beach featuring all three groups and a full music jam at Marine Stadium Park.
- Boston, MA - Make Music Winter Boston. Join the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District for an afternoon of music-making! Victorian Carolers, Downtown Holiday Brass, and Mediterranean Holiday Band will perform throughout Downtown Boston as part of their holiday market.
- Pittsburgh, PA - Sing-Along with Anna From Frozen. All ages are invited to join in a sing-along worthy of Arendelle’s queen. Local musician Elizabeth Chase will lead the public in singing along with classic Christmas songs, as well as those from the hit movies, Frozen and Frozen II.
- Cleveland, OH - A Musical Hike. A five-mile hike with members of the Cleveland Hiking Club through the Tremont and Ohio City areas, the troop will be stopping along the way to play popular, secular holiday tunes on kazoos and sing along from sheet music.
- Litchfield, CT - Community Meditation and Sound Healing. A daytime meditation event alongside facilitator Grace Magnusson paired with gong and singing bowls.
- Macon, GA - Where Soul Rocks On! Free sidewalk giveaways in downtown Macon, including kazoos, drumsticks, and more to make music!
- Rochester, NY - “Maracatú Workshop”. Participants can learn to play the basic rhythms and instruments of Brazilian maracatú music and discover its cultural context. Instruments will be provided.
Make Music Winter celebrations will also take place in Philadelphia (PA), Santa Fe (NM), Crystal Lake (IL), La Crosse (WI), Port Hueneme (CA), in Hawaii, and more to be announced. Additional information, events and cities will be posted at makemusicwinter.org.