A participant lifts up a Bluetooth speaker at “Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night” in New York, in 2014. The event, where participants each play one of four tracks that together make up the composition as they walk through a community, will be held in Montclair on Dec. 21. (COURTESY TAYLOR DAVIDSON)

By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
bartesaghi@montclairlocal.news

The fifth annual Make Music Winter — the winter version of Montclair’s Make Music Day — is coming on Tuesday, Dec. 21. And for the first time in Montclair, the day full of music will end with “Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night.” 

The original work by Kline, a New York composer, was written “specifically to be heard outdoors in the month of December,” his website dedicated to the work says. Several performances are scheduled throughout the country.

“It takes the form of a street promenade in which the audience becomes the performer,” the site says. Each participant plays one of four recorded tracks, and together they make up the composition.

Last year’s Make Music Winter was held over two days, with performances on street corners and porches, and included the fourth annual Solstice Parade. This year, the event will be only one day, with several events in the downtown area. 

“We’re going to have a series of events starting in the early afternoon, understanding it’s a weekday and people are either working or at school,” said Greg Pason, Montclair Music Day’s event chair and coordinator, as well as director of Indie Arts Montclair. “It’s going to be a fun afternoon of music. All free, all volunteers supporting the community this year.” 

Pason said this year’s Make Music Winter will be held around the downtown area because it will be easier for residents to participate in events. It’s being limited to one day to avoid spreading the volunteer team too thin. 

“It should be fun, and the town seems to embrace it. And it’s a great kickoff for the winter season,” Pason said. 

Pason also said Make Music Winter is partnering with businesses including Paper Plane Coffee Co. and East Side Mags, and with local organizations including Bike&Walk Montclair and the Montclair Center Business Improvement District. 

Make Music Winter will start at 2:30 p.m. at Paper Plane Coffee Co., located at 194 Claremont Ave., with a Holiday Bells Play-a-long led by Barbara Rudy. Participants will be given bells of varying colors. When a flag of the matching color is raised, they’ll play those bells.

“There’s a company called RBI, Rhythm Band Instruments, which donates free instruments to us every year. And we’ve got a bunch of bells,” Pason said. “We’re going to have about two, maybe three songs. And if it works, and it’s conducted right, we will be playing holiday songs.” 

At 3 p.m., East Side Mags, located at 492 Bloomfield Ave., will have a live DJ set from DJ Potassium. At the same time, at Trend Coffee & Tea House, located at 411 Bloomfield Ave., the Rodner/Tyler Duo will play live music.

At 5:15 p.m. at Cool Cat Music, located at 314 Bloomfield Ave., the annual parade will start, where participants will be handed electronic instruments made from toys that play electronic music. 

“We’re going to have a toy steering wheel and some toy dolls, and they are going to be amplified. And they are going to have these electronic volume knobs,” Pason said. 

The parade will head toward Crane Park for “Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night,” organized by Charlie Spademan. That performance will start at 6:15 p.m.

“We are really hoping we build some momentum throughout the day,” Pason said. “We use the events to promote the other events. And then by the time we get to ‘Unsilent Night,’ we can bring a nice crew and we have a really nice turnout.” 

Spademan, a local artist, said he had been attending “Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night” for the three years in Manhattan, and he said he thought of bringing it to Montclair.

“It has nothing to do with religion. It’s strictly about community,” Spademan said. “And it seemed like, particularly with the pandemic and not being able to really gather in large groups inside, this is an outside event and there’ll be a lot of room to spread out.” 

At 5:30 p.m. volunteers will be available at Crane Park to help participants download the four tracks, which can be done through unsilentnight.com/participate. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own Bluetooth speakers and deck out their cold weather outfits with lights, glow sticks or anything else that is festive.

“Some people bring big, loud speakers pulled on wagons or they have music horns up on top,” Spademan said. “Also, as far as all ages, people come and pull small kids on wagons or push them in strollers also decked out with lights. It’s absolutely for everybody.” 

Spademan and Pason both said that extra speakers, lights and decorations will be available for participants that don’t have those items. They encourage anyone to participate, even if they don’t have speakers.

Bike&Walk Montclair, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies, programs and street designs for safe biking and walking, in an announcement of the event invited anyone to take part by ”bike, foot, or wheels of any and all kinds.”

“To enhance the true solstice spirit even further, we are encouraging participants to ‘light up the night’ by adding colorful lights of all kinds to their bodies, bikes, blades and boards,” the group said.

“Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night” will last approximately 45 minutes, Spademan said. He said that the exact route is not ready yet, but the parade will start at Crane Park and end at the new Wellmont Arts Plaza.  

He said the route will definitely include Church Street, but might include some quieter areas as well, and even perhaps a parking deck “because I think that the acoustics going through there might be really interesting.” 

More information is at montclairmakesmusic.org and unsilentnight.com.

An earlier version of this post included an incorrect URL for Montclair Makes Music’s website.

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