By Morgan Rousseau
Hundreds of additional acts are slated to perform at a number of new outdoor, public venues in Queens and across the city at this year’s edition of the celebrated musical event Make Music New York.
Last year’s MMNY had more than 800 events across all five boroughs. This year’s MMNY, set to take place June 21, promises about 5,000 musicians of all ages and musical persuasions — from hip-hop to opera, Latin jazz to punk rock and more. The performances will take place on New York’s streets, sidewalks, stoops, plazas, cemeteries, parks and gardens.
Thousands of musical performers, amateur and professional alike, are expected to perform an elaborate and diverse array of tunes for passers-by.
The musical event, now in its fourth year takes place simultaneously with similar festivities in more than 300 cities around the world, based on France’s Fête de la Musique, a lively street music festival held every June in Paris.
This year’s MMNY has spread to bustling but less central neighborhoods of the city, such as Astoria, Harlem, Fort Greene, and DUMBO. Each of these neighborhoods has benefited from volunteer organizers who helped connect musicians with performance locations.
Astoria Park will welcome jazz and rock performances between the hours of 4:30 and 8 p.m., and Athens Triangle in Astoria will offer a venue for rock and world music from 1-8 p.m. Other Queens locations to host music include Brick Café in Astoria, Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queensbridge Park in LIC, Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights, and Tower Square Starbucks in Woodside.
Founder Aaron Friedman says he modeled MMNY after Fête, which he saw in 2006 while in Paris.
“I wanted to give New Yorkers a chance to interact with each other in a spontaneous, musical way, and learn about different kinds of musical cultures in this very diverse city,” Friedman said.
Friedman said this year offers new presenters and highly anticipated performers.
“The first year had 560 free, outdoor concerts across New York City. This year, we’ll have over 1,000 concerts, with about 5,000 musicians. Not only has the event grown, but we’ve started a number of innovative projects,” Friedman said.
One such project will take place in Central Park, where MMNY will offer a celebration of the music of visionary Greek composer Iannis Xenakis. Funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the festivities will include a percussion performance of Xenakis’ “Persephassa” (1969). Xenakis’ music will be performed by six percussionists surrounding the lake.
The Celebration of Xenakis features two different percussion groups – one at the Naumburg Bandshell and the other will be dispersed around Central Park Lake. Three percussionists are slated to perform on the western shore. Audience members are invited to listen from row boats, as there will also be percussionists performing on floating stages. In addition, the composer’s sole opera “Oresteia” will be performed in Central Park’s Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in a puppet production directed by Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti.
Other notable performances around the city include a New Orleans-style second line jazz parade that will work its way from Soho to Lincoln Square and uptown to Harlem; a program of interactive electronic performances in the Meatpacking District; the Play Hard Corporate Challenge, which gives a performance outlet to business executives who are also amateur musicians; Mass Appeal, which brings together hundreds of musicians to give mass performances onf pieces written for single types of instruments, including accordions, drums, gongs, iPhones, trumpets and tubas; and Punk Island, with more than 100 of the city’s loudest bands playing on Governors Island, where there are no decibel restrictions.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement that the event is a great example of why New York City is one of the world’s cultural capitals.
“Make Music New York gives residents and visitors a chance to experience the City’s diverse musical riches in their own backyards or explore the sights and sounds of other neighborhoods,” he said.
For a complete schedule and list of locations, visit www.makemusicny.org.