Make Music New York spreads holiday cheer across the city

Make Music Winter, a free, all-day outdoor music-making celebration held each Dec. 21 features 15 participatory musical parades across New York City that bring communities together on the winter solstice.
Courtesy of Make Music
By Tammy Scileppi

The Winter Solstice is fast approaching, so once Dec. 21 rolls around you can start looking forward to brighter days ahead and the emergence of spring.

Thanks to the earth’s tilt, we get the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year and, since many cultures enjoy feasting and celebrations around spiritual and religious traditions on this special day — which symbolizes rebirth and renewal — it’s a perfect time for finding renewed optimism here in The World’s Borough.

If you and your friends are getting ready to enjoy the solstice — in line with local “rituals” — why not join other New Yorkers who will be rejoicing across the five boroughs? A total of 15 participatory parades produced as part of the annual Make Music Winter celebrations is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 21.

Singers and instrumentalists of all ages and skill levels are welcome to join in the fun when Queens Second Line Swing rocks the borough. You can meet the parade at Corona Plaza at Roosevelt Avenue and 103rd Street in time for their 12 p.m. departure when they march from the plaza up to their friends at the Louis Armstrong House Museum for the finale that takes place in the garden.

So, how do you take part in the merriment and music-making?

“By bringing a beautiful, uninhibited spirit to our starting location and then by marching, singing, playing or dancing along…with the band,” said Second Line Swing producer Roz Nixon, who noted that Make Music New York has been spreading the word through their newsletters and social media channels.

A New Orleans-style parade, the Queens Second Line is anchored by a group of Jazz masters that includes international vocalist Antoinette Montague, Patience Higgins on tenor sax, Frank Lacy on trombone, Kenny Bentley on tuba, Michael C. Lewis on trumpet, Dr. John Mannan on soprano sax, Kevin Raczka on snare and Chauncey Yearwood on bass drum, according to Nixon, a Cambria Heights resident.

Local music-makers should bring their own instruments out to the parade; lyric sheets will be passed out to the crowds so that it’s easy to sing along.

Make Music New York Inc. is New York City’s only music festival for the people and by the people.

And it has grown to become this town’s largest free outdoor music festival, producing participatory musical performances on the Summer Solstice, June 21 — the longest day of the year — every year since 2007 and the complimentary series of Make Music Winter parades held each Winter Solstice since 2011.

The summer celebrations involve thousands of participating musicians performing from hundreds of outdoor host venues and shared public spaces across all five boroughs. Make Music Winter is more focused and is composed of over a dozen mobile music adventures, according to Make Music New York’s Executive Director, James Burke, a proud resident of Astoria-Ditmars.

“Last winter marked the first version of Queens Second Line Swing, which marched through Kew Gardens and ended on the steps of Queens Borough Hall. Dozens of music fans were able to take in and take part in the parade, so we are excited to be returning for a second season,” Burke said. “In previous years, Winter Solstice processions included ‘Decantations,’ that were held in Astoria. Composer Ravi Kittappa led the public in performances of his works created for the sound of sruti boxes (easily playable Indian drone instruments), as well as a variety of other sustaining instruments and electronic devices.” Other processions, like ‘Kalimbascope’ – featuring performances on thumb pianos – marched along Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood.”

For more information, visit www.MakeMusicNY.org.

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