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“Make Music Winter” Returns to NYC

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 21: Members of the FogoAzul NYC Drumline performs during the “Solstice Soul Train” event as part of “Make Music Winter, December 21” on December 21, 2017 in New York City . (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Make Music Winter)

Make Music Winter, a free, outdoor music-making celebration on the winter solstice that brings communities together and warms the spirit, returns this year on Saturday, Dec. 21 with more than 10 participatory musical parades across New York City. The daylong musical celebration on the shortest day of the year brings together New Yorkers of all ages, backgrounds, musical abilities and styles to sing, play, march and dance their way across streets, parks, plazas and other public spaces. Make Music Winter, which is being held in over 30 cities nationwide, is the cold-weather version of Make Music Day, the annual global celebration of music occurring on June 21, the summer solstice.

From ukulele caroling and a percussive Puerto Rican parranda to an Appalachia-themed hootenanny and a choir of medieval singers, Make Music Winter parades have been enchanting audiences since Make Music Winter first launched in 2011 in NYC. Make Music Winter in NYC is presented by The NAMM Foundation and produced by Make Music New York.

Highlights of Make Music Winter 2019 will include:

·         Bell by Bell (Astor Place Plaza and through the East Village) – Artist Tom Peyton will hand out to revelers color-coded bells that play different notes, give a crash course in hand bell basics, and then lead a musical parade through the East Village neighborhood. The parade will make stops at designated landmarks where a team of conductors will wave colored flags, prompting participants to collectively contribute to soundscapes that intensify as the group learns to play together. 

·         [B] MERRY Music Parade (Brownsville, Brooklyn) – Hosted by the Brownsville Community Justice Center, the parade will engage residents in the local arts and culture with music selections performed by local youth bands and dancers, as well as music from the Sound of Brownsville record label. The parade will connect Brownsville residents from Pitkin Avenue down Rockaway Avenue, parading past historic Belmont Avenue down to Livonia Avenue, stopping at the Marcus Garvey Youth Clubhouse.

·         Flatfoot Flatbush (Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue) – Dancers, fiddlers and pickers will parade down Flatbush Avenue playing old-time times while flat footing, a form of percussive dancing from Appalachia. Participants will learn the fundamental steps of this rhythmic dance form and have a chance to participate with the Flatfoot Flatbush String Band. The parade will traverse Prospect Heights Brooklyn, along vibrant Flatbush Avenue, with dozens of stops along the way to play, dance and sing. The fun will continue at an after-party featuring music and dance sets by City Stompers and the Flatfoot Flatbush Band. The program is produced by Nick Horner and Theo Boguszewski in association with the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, and made possible with support from M&T Bank and Con Edison.

·         The Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk (The High Line, Gansevoort Street entrance) – The Gaits is an immersive, site-specific parade featuring commissioned compositions in which the wonders of everyday technology transform participants’ movements into musical improvisations. Participants will attach their smart phones to small, wearable speakers and use a free app that captures the GPS coordinates and velocities of their movements to trigger a variety of twinkling metallic sounds, electric guitar chord, dulcimer notes, water splashes, car horns and applause – empowering marchers to effortlessly make music while interacting with their environment and each other. The program is produced in partnership with Friends of the High Line.

·         Harmonica Parade (Battery Park City) – Harmonica virtuoso Jia-Yi He, who was featured on “America’s Got Talent,” will lead this parade in performing holiday classics such as “Jingle Bell,” “Deck the Halls,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Silent Night,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Ode to Joy,” “Edelweiss” and “Amazing Grace.” Players of all levels are welcome. Bring a harmonica or a small percussive instrument with you if you have one. If not, harmonicas will be distributed on a first-come basis.  

·         The Mobile Hallelujah (multiple Manhattan locations to be announced)– In this participatory program, producer Melissa Gerstein and conductor Douglas Anderson team up again to bring Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” – from his Messiah oratorio, the oldest continuously performed piece of classical music – out of the concert hall and onto the city streets. Prior to Dec. 21, participants can access a free, specially crafted sound file to download (for practice) at Then, on the day of the parade, singers will descend on various popular locations across Manhattan and gather into vocal groups (soprano, alto, tenor and bass). Singers and their conductor will then synchronize their performance with the sound file played on a portable speaker, and make their way among the crowds. To the surprise of bystanders, a seemingly spontaneous outburst of the famous choral piece will unfold in their midst, while performers revel in the joy of creating a unique, full-throated version of the choral masterwork.

·         Melrose Parranda (Melrose section of The Bronx) – The Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC) will hold their annual parranda – the Puerto Rico tradition involving processions of carolers – throughout the Bronx’s historic Melrose neighborhood. Based on the music of plena, and other holiday songs from Puerto Rico, the parade will make stops at different casitas – the little houses that evoke those on the Puerto Rican countryside – and finish at the casita renowned for its musical legacy, Rincón Criollo Centro Cultural, also known as “La Casita de Chema.” The program is produced in partnership with the Bronx Music Heritage Center, We Stay/Nos Quedamos Committee, Inc., Asociación Huerto y Cultura, and the Bronx Culture Collective.

·         Pilgrimage (Riverside Park, Upper West Side) – Led by conductor James John, artistic director of the Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble, headlamp-clad singers will walk a route along Riverside Park making stops along the way to sing medieval melodies once sung on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Singers of all skills levels are invited to join, from beginners to early music specialists.

·         Renegade Parade by HONK NYC (St. George neighborhood of Staten Island) – The team behind HONK NYCwhich brings street band music and spectacle to audiences citywide, will lead a pop-up parade as it moves from location to location, switching bands, instruments, transportation methods and vibes along the way. The parade will begin in Queens and end in Staten Island’s St. George neighborhood.

·         Ukulele Caroling (Washington Square Park/Greenwich Village neighborhood) – Calling all ukes! Players of all skill levels are welcomed to participate in this parade, which will feature classic holiday and repertoire tunes for the ukulele. 

All Make Music Winter events are free and open to the public. Additional events will be posted at in November.

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About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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