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Home » Officer Columns » MPTF Working Toward Another Successful Make Music Day in 2020

MPTF Working Toward Another Successful Make Music Day in 2020

  -  Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund

In 1982, France’s Ministry of Culture dreamed up an idea for a new kind of musical holiday. They imagined a day where free, live music would be everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops. And, unlike a typical music festival, anyone and everyone would be invited to join and play music or host performances. The event would take place on the summer solstice, June 21, and would be called Fête de la Musique. (In French, the name means both “festival of music” and “make music!”)

Amazingly enough, this dream has come true. The Fête has turned into a true national holiday: France shuts down on the summer solstice and musicians take over. Almost 8% of the country’s five million people have played an instrument or sung in public for the Fête de la Musique.
It was 2007 when Make Music Day first came to New York, and it still took several years for the event to begin spreading widely across North America. In 2019, 85 cities in the U.S. and Canada celebrated with over 5,383 free concerts in 1,862 locations, all taking place on June 21!

As U.S. Special Projects Manager for Make Music Day Jonah Udall expressed, “Make Music Day is a celebration of the unique and universal joy of making music. We believe this is a complement to, not a replacement for, the joy of listening to masters perform. We’re working to keep music alive in the bodies and voices of the public, as well as their ears.”

Many have viewed Make Music Day as an amateur event. However, the vision for this global effort perfectly aligns with the mission of the Music Performance Trust Fund. U.S. founder of Make Music Day, Aaron Friedman, approached us with the idea of strategically involving professional musicians into specific performances across North America to provide leadership and mentoring. We have worked carefully, hand-in-hand with Aaron and his staff to provide grants to pay professional musicians to enhance the musical experience of this stellar event.

One example of the AFM’s impact was through the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra in Cleveland. The MPTF sponsored professional section leaders and a conductor to lead 40 amateurs of all ages in a classical string orchestra repertoire. Henry Peyrebrune, bassist in the Cleveland Symphony, directed the Make Music Day initiative there in 2019 while participating in various capacities for the past several years. His role demonstrates the impact and importance of professional stewardship.

Leonard DiCosimo, president of Local 4 (Cleveland, OH), reflected on the local’s involvement in Make Music Day: “Local 4 Music Fund is proud to be an annual partner of Make Music Day. Our members participated in a variety of activities again this year, most notably by performances in multiple lobby locations at the Cleveland Clinic; Baldwin-Wallace University faculty led an open reading of Sousa marches on campus; and a string octet from the BlueWater Chamber Orchestra augmented community musicians in classical repertoire at the Van Aken District Market Hall. We remain inspired by the Music Performance Trust Fund implementing these imaginative programs in local communities.”

Nashville proactively came aboard with Make Music Day in 2019. As Local 257 President Dave Pomeroy described, “Make Music Day was an incredible opportunity to engage AFM musicians with the Nashville community. Thirty-eight musicians performed at the Adventure Science Center over the course of seven hours, with an emphasis on musical and cultural diversity. Jazz, classical, Latin, gospel, and world music were all part of an amazing day filled with interaction between musicians and kids of all ages.”

This past year, 12 AFM locals received grants for 30 Make Music Day events. The MPTF’s participation in such a vast musical endeavor is extremely targeted. The influence of professional musicians in the social phenomena that is Make Music Day is pivotal to inspiring quality and providing guidance, and reflects positively upon the stature of their union members.
Globally, over 1,000 cities in 120 countries celebrated Make Music Day in 2019. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with union locals in selectively supporting the enhancement of Make Music Day events in the U.S. and Canada in the coming year.