Montclair Make Music Day catches fire
ADAM ANIK/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL
Make Music Montclair
Friday, June 21
10 a.m.-11 p.m.
locations around town
Saturday, June 22
10 a.m.-10 p.m.
locations around town
By GWEN OREL
Montclair Make Music Day isn’t longer than ever — it’s two days, while last year it was three — but it feels bigger than ever, says Greg Pason, the event’s chair.
This year, it even has its own flavor of ice from Gelotti Montclair.
Last year, Make Music Day began formally working with Montclair Center BID (Business Improvement District).
“There is more organizational support,” Pason said. “We have a broader base of supporters.”
Make Music Day is affiliated with the Make Music Alliance, a network of more than 100 cities in the U.S. and internationally that organize Make Music days on the summer solstice, June 21.
This year is Montclair’s sixth Make Music Day.
As it has in the past, Make Music Day extends from the solstice to the weekend. Since last year’s solstice was on a Thursday, the Friday in between was kind of a sandwich day, Pason said.
This year Montclair will have music all over town on Friday and Saturday, June 21 and 22. Music in shops, parks, sidewalks and churches will be free, with more than 100 performers appearing in about 40 venues. On Friday, music begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until midnight. A full schedule for both days is at MontclairMakesMusic.org.
Pason is pleased that people now understand that much of the festival is self-booked, that organizations and performers just sign up for their slots, and need not go through him.
“It’s like web-based matchmaking services,” he said. “In the past, people didn’t understand that, and it was mostly me being a Montclair Make Music Day Yenta.”
Pason had worked with Make Music New York from 2010 to 2012, and brought Make Music Day to Montclair in 2013.
In 2018, the event came under the umbrella of Indie Arts Montclair, which Pason co-chairs.
Everything is run by volunteers: students, musicians, residents.
“I love this community,” Pason said. “I love the ‘DIY’ aspect of it, that you don’t have to be a professional booker or space to be part of the performing arts scene in Montclair. The Montclair Community Band is doing a performance in [Band Manager] Barbara Rudy’s front yard. Everyone can be a part of it.”
“Free music is a great idea, and it’s just the type of thing Montclair loves,” said Ed Carine, longtime adviser to Terry’s Serendipity Cafe, a student-run organization that hosts shows. “And it’s fun being a part of a huge international event. I have performed and participated since Montclair joined the festival.” On Friday, he’ll help with sound systems — many, of different sizes — all around town.
On Saturday, he’ll run the Festival Underground, an annual event that holds music from noon to 5 p.m. in Edgemont Memorial Park. Festival Underground is always held the Saturday after finals, before high school graduation, Carine explained. Five or six bands will perform, and there will be an open mic. One of the bands is made up of the student staff members of Serendipity Cafe.
“We’re rehearsing our secret song,” Carine said.
Montclair Early Music Consort & Madrigal Singers will perform at Montclair Center Stage on Saturday, in a program titled “Love and Romance in the Elizabethan Era.”
“Our music is very suitable for this time of year,” said the group’s leader, Julienne Pape. The madrigal singers are a recent addition to the group, which has focused on recorder music, but also includes musicians who play antique instruments including cornetto, sackbut and lute. It meets on Thursdays at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and recently held a recorder contest for third and fourth graders.
The group, which will have about 24 people, will perform in costume.
“We’re all watching Masterpiece Theatre episodes, Elizabeth I and that time period,” Pape said. “It’s fun to see the music that happened then. I want to share that, I want people to know about this great music that’s rarely heard.”
The group will sing some madrigals taken from Shakepeare’s lyrics, including “O Mistress Mine” from “Twelfth Night,” and “Let Flow My Tears” from “Othello.”
“It was believed that when a melancholy person hears music that is sad, it helps them become healthy.
“So a lot of the music was melancholic,” Pape said.
Healing music can also be heard on Friday, June 21, on the lawn of First Congregational Church, presented by the Rev. Karma Cloud and her organization, SoWisdom. Cloud, the director of Christian education at FCC, calls herself a “community weaver.”
When Make Music Day held a winter solstice event, she read from her children’s book, and
when Pason approached her about finding venues for the days, she said, “How about right here?”
Celebrating solstices dovetails nicely with the mission of SoWisdom, which Cloud described as a “center for living and learning about life and spirituality, and the intersection of those pathways.”
The theme of the events presented by SoWisdom is “Afro Eclectic.”
“My center does a lot with African spirituality, Native American spirituality, so I wanted to give that a voice and platform.”
Music and art are what humanizes people, she said. “There’s a way in which we can connect and see each other's humanity when we sing together.”
On Friday, one of the groups she’s excited about is the Oasis Youth Steel Pan Ensemble, described on Make Music Day’s website as “New Jersey's premier youth steel pan music source.” They will perform at 5 p.m. at FCC, following a 4 o’clock screening of “Panomundo,” a documentary about the evolution of the steel pan in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Steel pans are symbols of cultural liberation for people of African descent,” Cloud said. “Music and drums were denied us when we were enslaved.” When slaves salvaged oil drums and turned them into instruments, steel pans became symbols of freedom.
SoWisdom also presents Gabi the Artist and other artists at Center Stage on Saturday.
Make Music Day “has just exploded this year,” Cloud said. “It’s reached a pivotal point. I feel it’s caught on, and caught fire. People now know it’s coming. I feel a really great convergence is happening right now.”
And Montclair is blessed with “a lot of abundance.”
That includes ice cream and gelato.
Michael Guerriero, owner of Gelotti Montclair, has created a signature ice for this year’s Montclair Make Music Day.
Guerriero is now the Number One gelato chef in North America, after taking first place in the Gelato Festival American All Star Finals in March.
“I’ve been traveling around making flavors,” Guerriero said. He was happy to invent a flavor that would match the festivities.
It’s a vanilla creamsicle, colored blue, for Montclair, and orange, the official color of Make Music Day.
Guerriero likes to be involved in anything that might encourage kids and young people to follow their dreams, as he did.
Bringing people together is what Make Music Day really does best, Pason said. “I love the random things that have to happen.”
A few years ago, a band was playing loud rock at 73 See, on Pine Street.
People approached, he assumed to complain.
But then they started to rap, and jam with the band.
“They didn’t know each other. They were just people across the street. They heard the beat and started rapping to it,” Pason said. “These are folks that don’t live in the same neighborhood. They probably wouldn’t have met.”