Make Music New York 2019

Gowanus Canal June 21, 2019

Another fantastic MMNY! The morning showers became a mere mist by noon, and as I reached Astor Place, the sun began to peak through.  There, at the Joe’s Pub sponsored Stage, Martha Redbone and her band performed deep rooted Americana with an electrified beat.

In France, where Fête de la Musique originated in 1981, over 60% of the population participate, many by wandering the streets in classic flâneur fashion until music catches there ear. Inspired by this, I strolled to the West Village and sure enough, found the sweet sounds of Argentinian singer songwriter Anamoli emanating from Stonewall Park, the fence lined by rainbow flags.

Next I headed uptown to Richard Tucker Park, where super earnest performers from Les Ballet Chinois in New York demonstrated a cornucopia of Chinese styles, that included elderly women dancing ballet from Swan Lake, children reciting a poem about gratitude accompanied by hand gestures, a “contemporary” Chinese Opera duet calling for harmony between the military and the people, and, most extraordinary of all, a fashion show demonstrating the history of Chinese dress from the Tang Dynasty to the contemporary qipao–using four or five year old toddlers as models!  The whole thing reminded me of a scene from Pengfei’s comical realist film The Taste of Rice Flower.

On a wave of elation, I floated to Hudson River Pier 1 where two baby grand pianos sat facing upstream.  As children freed from strollers danced about, pianists from Third Street Music School Settlement, Kaufman Music Center and Mannes Prep played a wide range of pieces for four or more hands.  The strong wind made keeping the sheet music in place a challenge, despite heavy paper clips, so friends of performers were called upon to hold the music in place.

Finally, as sun set on solstice, I took the F train to Carroll Street and walked to the redeveloped superfund site Gowanus Canal.  Seated in canoes from the Gowanus Dredgers, volunteer vocalists performed Eric Whitacre’s meditative “Water Night” as twilight arrived.

Eric Whitacre’s “Water Night.” on Gowanus Canal



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