Make Music New York @ Cornelia Street Café, Pt. II

June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tomorrow between 4 and 6pm, Cornelia will make a block party of a side-street. To this end, and through the dedicated work of singer-curatress Jean Rohe, we have assembled an expert platoon of ourdoors musicians, specially-trained for just such an occassion. Says Rohe, “programming for MMNY appealed to me because I believe live music needs to be and can be in our lives without being mysterious, expensive, or separate from the day-to-day. I myself love busking in the street (I have my own secret favorite spot in SoHo with great acoustics and lots of ogling tourist traffic). MMNY just takes busking to another level. Minus the hat-passing.”

Yesterday you met the Xylopholks, costumed buskers extraordinaires. They will be joined by the sublime vocal masters of our Bel Canto series, led by former Met chorus master Eugene Sirotkine. There will be periodic punctuation by our upper-story neighbor, trumpeter Mr. Leif Arntzen.  Shakuhachi Ensemble will bring truth-seeking Eastern wind instruments out in force. And ensemble Red Light New Music will not so much perform as incite a musical piece for 111 bicycles.

Things you may wonder: What is a Shakuhachi? How do a hundred bicycles add up to a work of music? And what on Earth will all of this look and feel like?

We have answers. James Nyoraku Schlefer, Shakuhachi Grand Master: “The sound of the shakuhachi is quite special. The instrument is made from a single piece of thick bamboo and its sound has a deeply penetrating yet earthy tone. The traditional music is from an ancient tradition associated with the practice of Zen Buddhist meditation and that repertoire focuses on sound rather than melody, rhythm and harmony as does Western music.”

As far as the bicycles? There is a why and a how. Vincent Raikhel of Red Light New Music: “We feel that it is essential that a work be both viscerally and intellectually stimulating, while not taking itself to seriously. Kagel was a rare composer who was able to weave his music seamlessly with the world of the theatrics while being honest and resisting silliness.

The audience should be prepared for a charming and interesting event- that will hopefully make them smile and think about the nature of performance and the music that surrounds us in our daily lives. The bikers will ride past, ringing, singing and making air sounds. And, as soon as they ride past, the piece is over and the day will move on to the other great musicians who we are performing with us on Tuesday, both on Cornelia street and throughout the city.”

When asked what audience-participants might expect, perhaps it was Jean herself who put it best: “Oh, only an unbridled feeling of joy and possibility. It’s the longest day of the year in the greatest city in the world, 111 bicycles, 5 xylophones, 3 basses, 2 guitars, 12 shakuhachis, 6 singers, one palpitating heart in your little ol’ chest.”

We hope to see you there.

For more information about the daylong concert-doing marathon known as Make Music New York, including a schedule of all that is set to occur, please visit their website at If you’d like to follow the festivities outside with a bite to eat, please peruse our foodly offerings at or call 212/989-9319


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