If you go to cities like Paris, New York City, and Los Angeles on June 21st, the Summer Solstice, you’ll notice live music performed in public places like street corners as far as the ear can hear. Amateurs and professionals alike play and sing in groups of every conceivable size and configuration. This global happening began in Paris as Fete de la Musique in 1982, and now over 450 communities offer their own versions of the event. This summer, it will debut in Madison.
It’s called Make Music Madison, and it will offer opportunities for Madisonians from all walks of life to perform and enjoy a celebration of free live music, creating a citywide smorgasbord buffet of musical merriment. Virtually any way in which citizens can imagine to make music can and will happen. The music performances will transform parks, front yards and more into impromptu musical stages, dance floors, and community gathering places. The new organization’s theme line is “Performed by Anyone, Enjoyed by Everyone.”
Make Music Madison will take place on Friday, June 21, 2013 with dozens and dozens of performances taking place primarily from 4:00 to 8:00 PM in public spaces throughout the city, and at random other times throughout the day as well. Later that evening, professional musicians will offer special concerts in traditional music venues.
Longtime University of Wisconsin-Madison marketing Professor Michael Rothschild, who first experienced the event live in New York City, brought the idea to Madison. Rothschild said, “Madison is incredibly suited for this event. Imagine all the creativity and ideas and passion for music in this city, unleashed in amazing ways. This should be nothing short of spectacular.”
Make Music Madison has launched a new website to allow musicians and venues to sign up to participate. The software was developed voluntarily with input from numerous members of Madison's tech community, and as part of an initiative to enable the city's growth through providing free, high-quality technology. Michael Fenchel (of hoos.in), leader of the technology effort along with Mike Schuette, feels that this is a great example of many projects to come in which local programmers band together to build powerful solutions for community- and city-building initiatives.
Rothschild explains, “Musicians of any age or ability can go to the website, and sign up to perform. And venues, from businesses to people who want to share their front yards, can sign up to find or request musicians. The site guides both musicians and venues through the matchmaking process, and we’d love them to start signing up now.”
Musicians can organize their own event, and get as creative as they’d like. An accordion symphony? A disco tuba quartet? A hip-hop tribute to jazz? Yes, yes, and yes. Musicians can execute virtually any vision they have. Any musician or band can organize a creative framework for the concert, and will work with their venue on logistics: timing, using electricity if necessary, and using other equipment and other details that the artist and venue care to pursue. Musicians can even “recruit” a venue that they’d love to perform outside of.
On the day of the big event, musicians and citizens alike are encouraged to capture and share photos and videos of the event at themakemusicmadison.org website.
Like other cities that provide Summer Solstice events, Make Music Madison does not provide funding to musicians or venues. It has created the web-based hub for signing up, will coordinate and promote the event, provide concert listings, will coordinate a volunteer street team, and has worked closely with the city to secure permits. Performers will be volunteering their time and talents, but both venues and musicians are welcome to seek outside sponsorship and support where appropriate.