PORTLAND — Make Music Portland organizers are hard at work setting the schedule for the 2019 season. This will be their seventh annual celebration, focused on community music and artistic expression, to fill the streets of greater Portland with free musical performances and interactive events.

The events occur throughout the day on the summer solstice in conjunction with Make Music Day and Fête de la Musique. While Portland was one of the first U.S. cities to adopt the celebration in 2013, the event now takes place in more than 1,000 cities around the world, always on the summer solstice and always featuring free musical performances.

“We had nearly 100 performances last year at about 10 venues around greater Portland and Brunswick,” said organizer Catherine Tanous, who began the event in 2013 after working on a similar celebration in Denver, Colo.

“But by far the most popular things were the interactive, play-along events. So, this year, we’re planning to have more of those than ever,” she said.

One of those interactive events in 2018, a brainchild of MMP organizers, ended up being featured in national media, including USA Today. The event was called “Shower Singing,” and featured a claw-foot tub, rigged with amplified sound equipment, and an iPad with karaoke software, being brought to Lobsterman Park in the center of downtown Portland. Participants were offered to step into the tub, behind the protection of a shower curtain, to sing their hearts out for passersby.

“That was really popular, and this year a bunch of other cities around the U.S. are going to be doing the same thing,” said Tanous. “We’ll be bringing that back, in addition to eight other interactive events.”


Those will include an instrument petting zoo, where people can learn about and try various instruments, as well as an introduction to ukulele, a “make-your-own-instrument” session for children and Pirates in the Park, a musical performance and swashbuckling demonstration being put on at noon in Monument Square by actors in Maine State Music Theatre’s rendition of “Treasure Island.”

To bring all of this year’s activities to Portland, MMP organizers have partnered with 317 Main Community Music, Friends of Congress Square Park, 98.9 WCLZ, music students at Casco Bay High School, Lee Urban of Ukuleles Heal the World, Maine State Music Theatre, Coast 93.1, Victoria Mansion as well as various local venues and private businesses.

The organization is still looking for more activities partnerships as well as performers to fill up the schedule for the solstice.

“We welcome performers of all ages and all abilities. We don’t care about what you play, your genre, or how good you are. We want anyone who’s interested to come make music with us,” she said.

Though registration to get listed on the official schedule will close at the end of the month, Tanous said that anyone is welcome to grab their instrument and take to the streets as long as they are respectful of other artists and the public.

To get registered on the official schedule, to connect with the organization, or to learn more about the event, head to www.makemusicportland.org or visit the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MakeMusicPortland/.

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