PORTLAND– Make Music Portland organizers are gearing up for their fifth annual celebration of summer on Wednesday, June 21, the summer solstice. The event features free musical performances around the city in public and private venues.
Make Music Portland is part of a larger, global event called Make Music Day that takes place on June 21 in more than 700 cities and 120 countries around the world.
“The idea is to bring free music to spots all over the city,” Catherine Tanous, a founder of the event and president of the nonprofit Make Music Portland, said. “The event began in Paris, in 1982, and was called Fête de la Musique. And it’s grown around the world since then.”
When Make Music Portland began in 2013, Portland was one of just nine cities in the country partaking in the event. That number has now grown to more than 40 cities and municipalities.
The stipulations of the event are simple, according to Tanous. The event always takes place on June 21. Anyone is invited to participate, regardless of style or skill. (Though registration has now closed, the organizers allow participants to sign up online to be included in the schedule of performances. However, anyone is invited to come and make music on June 21 by finding a quiet, public space anywhere in the city.) Performances are completely free to attend and to participate in, though artists may sell merchandise or busk if they choose.
Last year’s event saw more than 90 registered performances take place all over greater Portland. This year’s event, which falls on a Wednesday, currently has more than 80 performances scheduled.
“Because the event always falls on the summer solstice, we don’t really get to determine which day of the week it happens,” Tanous said. “Being in the middle of the week is new for us, but we’re hoping that a lot of people still come out to listen.”
This year’s concerts will begin at 10 a.m. and will wrap up at most venues by 8 p.m. The event will see concerts happening at Bell Buoy Park, Deering Oaks Park, Longfellow Square, Congress Square Park, Post Office Plaza, Lobsterman Park, Ri Ra Irish Pub, Porthole Restaurant, and b.good on Exchange Street, Cool as a Moose in Brunswick and Portland, Peppermint Park, Rising Tide Brewery, Andy’s Old Port Pub, and Monument Square (after the weekly farmers’ market ends).
Local groups have also gotten involved. A full schedule of performances taking place at Post Office Plaza has been curated by 317 Main Community Music Center, a nonprofit based in Yarmouth. Similarly, the group Friends of Fort Sumner Park has organized performances at the East End park.
As in past years, organizers will be hosting kid-friendly events, in addition to the free concerts. These events include a harmonica lesson (with free harmonicas) and a ukulele jam session.
For more information on the event or to see the schedule of concerts, visit the organization’s website at www.makemusicportland.org.