NEW YORK (AP) — Walking? Check. In a winter wonderland? Well, it marks the beginning of the season. Bells ringing? Sure, along with trumpets and some fiddles.
An outdoor musical celebration is marking the winter solstice on Sunday with just over a dozen small parades in locations around New York City, and people are invited to join in – with bells, horns, their phones, even their feet.
Make Music Winter is “turning music from something that is done by professionals for a passive audience into something that’s completely participatory and communal,” said Aaron Friedman, president and founder of Make Music New York, which started in 2007 as a festival held every June on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
Now in its fourth year, Make Music Winter is held on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. There are 13 parades being held at various times of the day in four of the city’s five boroughs. (Sorry, Staten Island.)
In one Manhattan event, those who attend will be given bells in different colors, and conductors will guide them in which color bell to ring at what moment. In another parade in the borough, participants will use a particular app on their smartphones that will emit different sounds including guitar chords and metallic notes based on their footsteps as they walk along the High Line elevated park. In the Bronx, people are encouraged to bring their own instruments and join in as a roving band of musicians goes from location to location.
In Brooklyn, those who take part in a parade will be taught how to flatfoot dance, a style that comes from Appalachia, as fiddlers provide the music. And in Queens, musicians of any skill level with brass instruments will follow the path of the shadow cast by the Citibank building in Long Island City.
Hiroya Miura, creator of the Queens event, said he was looking to reach a different audience than the ones that come to the concert halls to hear his contemporary compositions. This year is his second participating in Make Music Winter.
“I really like the idea of writing music that can be played by musicians of different levels, not just the specialized musicians,” he said.
Composers Lainie Fefferman and Jascha Narveson will be hosting “The Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk” for the fourth year.
“We hope it’s becoming a bit of a winter tradition,” Fefferman said. While they’ve attended the Make Music concerts in the summer, they haven’t participated, and don’t think their piece would fit at another time of year.
“It sounds like winter,” Fefferman said. “The piece wouldn’t work in any other season.” Plus, she said, this year there will be hot chocolate for participants at the end of the route.
Holding the festivals at the solstices, which mark the change of seasons, is purposeful, Friedman said.
“There are so many different cultures and religions and calendars at work in New York, but these are the two sort of universal astronomical lodestars,” he said. “It’s sort of a good excuse to get people together in a way that’s completely ecumenical and universal.”
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