Forty years ago, France launched the Fête de la Musique, a national holiday to celebrate music, open to everyone who wants to perform, with thousands of free concerts on streets and parks nationwide. Inspired by France’s example, people around the world now celebrate their own “Make Music Day” on June 21, in dozens of countries and 105 U.S. cities.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Fête de la Musique, Make Music New York and the Make Music Alliance present a full day of concerts in New York City featuring music of French composers and musicians at seven outdoor locations at Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and The Battery, all within view of the Statue of Liberty, the powerful symbol of friendship and connections between nations.
The festivities on June 21 will kick off with a special morning ceremony with French and U.S. elected officials and dignitaries at The Battery, including a performance of Carnival of the Animals by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, written in 1886, the same year the Statue of Liberty was inaugurated. Following will be dozens of concerts featuring centuries of music by French composers – Bizet, Bozza, Boulez, Clements, Debussy, Faure, Gombert, Jacquet de la Guerre, Josquin, Piaf, Poulenc, Rameau, Ravel, Reinhardt, Satie, Tailleferre, and Varèse included – as well as contemporary music by French musicians living in New York.
The day concludes at SummerStage in New York’s Central Park with performances by French hip-hop star MC Solaar, electronic group Bon Entendeur, and electro-pop artists Hyphen Hyphen.
Please note: although all events are free and open to the public, ferry tickets are needed in order to visit Liberty and Ellis Islands. For information on ferry tickets, click here.
Battery Fountain, The Battery (map)
10:00 – Press conference with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Ambassador of France to the United States Philippe Étienne, and special guests
10:30 – Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns, featuring French musicians Yves Dhar on cello, Nicolas Duchamp on flute, and Johannes Pfannkuch on tuba, accompanied by pianists Jenny Undercofler and Mina Kim. Each movement will be introduced by a poem about an animal, read in English or in French. Poetry readers will include Philippe Petit (high wire artist), Richard Kessler (Mannes School of Music), Kristina Newman-Scott (New York Public Radio), David Dik (Young Audiences), Jesse Brackenbury (Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation), Warrie Price (The Battery), Aaron Friedman (Make Music Alliance), James Burke (Make Music New York), and others to be announced.
12:00 – French Baroque keyboard works by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, performed by three students of Blair McMillan and J.Y. Song at Mannes The New School: Kexin Liu, Hanfei Tu, and Alicia Liu.
1:00 – French song recital by vocal students from William Paterson University
2:00 to 5:00 – Young Scholars from the Lang Lang International Piano Foundation perform highlights from the French solo and duo piano repertoire, including work by Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, and Bizet. Pianists will include Aliya Alsafa, Maxim Lando, Ryan Lu, and Harmony Zhu. At 2:00pm: Music of Debussy (Claire de Lune, Images Book 1, and Arabesque No. 1). At 3:00pm: Music of Ravel (A la maniere Borodine / Chabrier, Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn, Sonatine, Gaspard de la nuit, La Valse for 4 hands). At 4:00pm: Music of Others (Impromptu by Germaine Tailleferre, Gnossiennes by Erik Satie, Nocturnes and Impromptus by Fauré, Bizet’s Carmen, Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, and Saint-Saëns 2nd Piano Concerto)
Barbès/FranceRock Stage at Castle Clinton Plaza, The Battery (map)
12:00 – Seeking to increase the possibilities of the harp and find a richer harmonic language, Laura Perrudin found an opening in 2008, when luthier Philippe Volant built her a chromatic pedal-less harp with a single row of strings. With it, she ventures into sound worlds evoking Amon Tobin, Björk and Flying Lotus, as well as the winding, impressionistic harmonies of Debussy, Ravel or Wayne Shorter.
1:00 – Prophet’s Guild is the experimental folk outlet of singer-songwriters/instrumentalists Emma Steen and Greg Hunter. They will be performing a set inspired by French Mediaeval music and folk songs, blending Steen’s love of folk revivalist material, protest songs, and madrigals with Hunter’s mastery of extended techniques and improvisation.
2:00 – Stephane Wremble is quite simply one of the finest guitar players in the world. This prolific musician from France has been releasing a steady stream of music since 2002 and has truly made his mark as one of the most original guitar voices in contemporary music. He performs with his trio.
3:00 – Eleonore Biezunski is an award-winning Parisian singer/violinist/songwriter and scholar now living in NYC. An avid collector of Yiddish music, she has led several projects and has collaborated with a large number of well-known Jewish performers in the US and abroad.
4:00 – After being introduced to the Casio VL-Tone by a neighbor in Paris, Glockabelle began blending her classical piano techniques with 8-bit synthpop sounds resulting in a hyperactive mixture of rhythm and tone. She also invented a unique technique for playing the glockenspiel: not with mallets but with eight sewing thimbles.
5:00 – Helen Gillet is a singer-songwriter and surrealist-archeologist exploring synthesized sounds, texture, and rhythm using an acoustic cello. Her mixed musical vocabulary is commensurate with her disparate travels — French chanson of the 1940s, Belgian folk tunes sung in Walloon, a mix of rock and punk from the likes of PJ Harvey and X-Ray Spex, and her own affecting originals.
Esplanade, The Battery (map)
- 2:30 to 6:00 – Accordionists Melissa Elledge and Mary Spencer Knapp sing and play French songs and other repertoire on the accordion throughout the afternoon.
6:00 – Melissa Elledge leads a “Mass Appeal Accordion” event, with a group performance of In C by Terry Riley. All accordion players are invited to bring their instruments and join in!
Playscape, The Battery (map)
- 11:15 – Led by composer, trombonist, and concert producer Chris McIntyre, contemporary brass ensemble TILT Brass performs excerpts from Eugène Bozza’s Sonatine for brass quintet in a pop-up performance at the playground.
Flagpole Plaza, Liberty Island (map)
- 11:30 – The American Symphony Orchestra presents three of France’s great string quartets – by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Germaine Tailleferre – performed by concertmaster Cyrus Beroukhim (violin), Robert Zubrycki (violin), Will Frampton (viola), and Jordan Enzinger (cello).
12:30 – Led by composer, trombonist, and concert producer Chris McIntyre, contemporary brass ensemble TILT Brass performs excerpts from Eugène Bozza’s Sonatine for brass quintet and Pierre Boulez’s Initiale for 7 brass instruments.
1:00 – Flutist Kim Lewis plays the classic solo work Density 21.5 by Edgard Varèse. Following this short piece, an octet led by conductor Kyle Ritenauer, will perform Varèse’s Octandre, featuring Kim Lewis (flute), Timothy Hommowun (oboe), Yan Liu (clarinet), Joel Rodeback (horn), Tylor Thomas (bassoon), Ariel Shores (trumpet), Johannes Pfannkuch (trombone), and Dylan Holly (double bass).
1:30 – Randy Stein, a founding member of the Big Apple Circus now living in Washington DC, performs classic French songs by Edith Piaf and others on the English concertina
2:30 – The American Symphony Orchestra presents three of France’s great string quartets – by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Germaine Tailleferre – performed by concertmaster Cyrus Beroukhim (violin), Robert Zubrycki (violin), Will Frampton (viola), and Jordan Enzinger (cello).
American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island (map)
Through a special arrangement between the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation and the Italian-based SlideWorld, the History Center at Ellis Island currently hosts a “SlideDoor,” a life-sized portal with live video and audio capabilities that enables spontaneous, real-time personal connections. Coming upon the Ellis Island SlideDoor you’ll meet people engaging with the display’s “twin” more than 4,000 miles away in the Cathedral of San Mateo in Salerno, Italy.
For Make Music Day in Italy (where it is called the “Festa della Musica“), three Italian bands will perform live in Salerno in front of the SlideDoor, so that visitors in Ellis Island can hear their music. In return, the Voxtet group in New York will perform a concert of French repertoire, live for an Italian audience.
- 10:00 – Stradeaperte group, featuring Marco Balestrieri (mandolin), Luca Capuccio (electric cello) and Riccardo Antonielli (pipedrum and percussion).
10:30 – “Fellini in Jazz,” with Stefano Giuliano (saxophone), Marco De Gennaro (piano), Vincenzo Nigro (bass) and Stefano de Rosa (drums)
11:00 – Voxtet is the William Paterson University Music Department’s newest vocal ensemble. This a cappella group performs repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to the present, and all without a conductor. Voice program directors Dr. Lauren Fowler-Calisto and Dr. Christopher Herbert perform with their students in order to give hands-on experience in ensemble leadership. In 2021, Voxtet performed on the William Paterson Chamber Choir tour to Italy. Their French program at Ellis Island will include works by Gombert, Clemens, and Josquin.
11:30 – Antonio Nicola Bruno (guitar)
3:30 – Flutist Kim Lewis plays the classic solo work Density 21.5 by Edgard Varèse, in the building through which Varèse himself came when he emigrated from France to the United States in 1915.
Flagpole Plaza, Ellis Island (map)
- 10:00 to 5:00 – Ten years ago, trailblazing percussionist Amy Garapic led a “Worldwide Day of Vexations” for Make Music Day 2012, organizing percussionists in New York and around the world to perform Erik Satie’s notoriously repetitive 18-hour-long piece for solo piano. For Faire la Fête, she and her colleagues will return to Vexations, playing it on vibraphone outside on Ellis Island, for as long as possible.
1:30 – Led by composer, trombonist, and concert producer Chris McIntyre, contemporary brass ensemble TILT Brass performs excerpts from Eugène Bozza’s Sonatine for brass quintet and Pierre Boulez’s Initiale for 7 brass instruments.
3:00 – Kyle Ritenauer will conduct Edgard Varèse’s Octandre, featuring Kim Lewis (flute), Timothy Hommowun (oboe), Yan Liu (clarinet), Joel Rodeback (horn), Tylor Thomas (bassoon), Ariel Shores (trumpet), Johannes Pfannkuch (trombone), and Dylan Holly (double bass).