While temperatures are already blazing, summer doesn’t officially begin until Wednesday, June 21, the Summer Solstice. For the 11th year in a row, Make Music New York fetes the longest day of the year with more than a thousand free, city-wide musical performances — many of which you can take part in too — from sunup to sundown. From hundreds of guitar players serenading Union Square with peace anthems, to spontaneous “Street Studios” set up on sidewalks across the city, here are five can’t-miss events this year.
Inside the Bird Chorus
Here’s one for the early birds. From 5:30- 6 a.m. at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, clarinetist David Rothenberg will perform a composition in sync with the early morning song of the park’s bird species. Different musicians will do the same throughout the day at parks across all five boroughs, including Cherry Hill in Central Park (5:30 a.m.), Wave Hill in the Bronx (9 a.m.), Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve in Queens (9 a.m.). Fresh Kills Preserve in Staten Island closes out the day at 7 p.m. 5:30 a.m.- 7 p.m., multiple locations
Guitar Mass Appeal
Many MMNY events are participatory. This hippied out guitar jam will see hundreds of strummers take over Union Square Park to play classic songs of freedom. To participate, show up with your geetar and the know-how to play through songs including Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and Pete Seegar’s “If I Had a Hammer.” Show up early to practice, and sit in on a free music lesson from teachers from NYC Guitar School. Find more “Mass Appeal” programming here. 6 p.m. – 8 p.m, Union Square Park
Ella Fitzgerald Piano Bar
The First Lady of Song would have turned 100 years old this year. As an ode to the iconic jazz singer, a mobile piano will make stops at different sites that are significant to Fitzgerald’s legacy in NYC, beginning at the Apollo Theater and ending at the National Jazz Museum. Anyone is invited to sing tunes from Fitzgerald’s songbook, to live piano accompaniment. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., locations in Harlem
Mobile recording studios will set up “street studios” to record passerby who want to drop a beat, sing an aria, or play a riff on their instrument. You’ll find the studios at the SoundCloud HQ in Flatiron (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.), Gotham Market at the Ashland in Fort Greene (12:30- 3:30 p.m.), Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx (4 p.m.- 7 p.m.) among other locations. Samples from the day’s recordings will be aired at the “Street Studio Listening Party” on Friday, June 23, from 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. at Bang on a Can in Fort Greene. Times and locations vary
Joe’s Pub Block Party
This year, the theater, bar and music venue dedicates its annual block party to the NYC immigrant population. Six international musical acts will perform, beginning with a noon concert from Cuban-American composer Jose Conde, Haitian singer-songwriter Herve at 2 p.m., and closing out from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. with the all-female Brazilian percussion ensemble, Batala. 12 p.m.- 6 p.m., Astor Park Plaza
For the complete schedule, visit makemusicny.org.