On the longest day of the year, public spaces across the five buroughs of New York City erupt with sound during the Make Music New York festival—and UCF’s percussionists were there to join in on the celebration. The festival is an innovative approach to making music—it’s a free celebration of sound, where 460 cities across the globe create a global music experience.
In a corner of NY called Morningside Park, UCF’s Thad Anderson, percussionist and instructor, students Matt Roberts and Kaylee Bonatakis, and alumnus Omar Carmenates, performed a special piece called “Inuksuit.” Composed by Luther John Adams, the 79-minute piece involved “a small army of 99 percussionists from across the country, playing conch shells, air horns, sirens, gongs, maracas, drums, cymbals, and glockenspiels,” according to the site’s description. The piece is meant to be more than just a beautiful piece of music—it’s also performance art.
“Inuksuit thrives in distinctive environments and that’s exactly what we got with the Make Music New York performance,” says Anderson. “I’ve never performed a piece where I’ve simultaneously felt like an audience member. Inuksuit requires the performers to observe and react to all of the sounds that are occurring within the environment of that particular location. Listening plays an equal role to the sounds each percussionist is creating.”
Certainly, the piece was an outdoor spectacle, as described on WQXR 105.9 FM in New York. Further, The New York Times called the piece a “mighty contribution” and added that the musicians “added graceful, eerie tones and harmonies” by using rubber tubes and created texture through sandpaper blocks and flame drums.
As an outdoor number, spectators can walk around the performance and catch the piece from different angles, making the piece a different experience depending on where one stood.
Anastasia Tsioulcas, a blogger who attended the performance, said: “Around me were shimmering gongs, triangles and a glockenspiel, while I could hear the echoes of other percussionists in the canyon-like hollow below. The effect was just magical, and a magnificent way to end the longest day of the year.”
Other contributions were made by So Percussion, the Percussion Group Cincinnati, the Proper Glue Duo, Mantra Percussion and music students from other schools nationwide.