Make Music Chicago

Chicago joins an international music-making festival on the summer solstice

Photograph: Eric Snoza
Adam Marks plays his Toy Piano at Make Music Chicago

While the city’s budget for outdoor entertainment has shrunk, quality music-purveyors have found a way to continue and, in some cases, grow. This summer, Rush Hour Concerts—a weekly classical music series in St. James Episcopal Cathedral—expands with a giant ode to the solstice. The org leads the charge to connect Chicago to an international party on Tuesday 21, celebrating the longest day of the year with live music.

“We are joining over 400 cities around the world in making music for everyone,” says Deborah Sobol, Rush Hour Concerts artistic and executive director.

The summer-solstice event began 30 years ago in Paris as Fête de la Musique. Over time, it morphed into an informal national holiday in France and spread to 110 countries, from Egypt to Vietnam to Chile. Make Music New York originated five years ago, and now we join the global bash with Make Music Chicago. Hey, you can never be too late to a party.

At press time, the schedule of free, often interactive concerts was still shaping up, but some things were already set—including a three-hour St. James Episcopal Cathedral (65 E Huron St) finale, with music both outside and inside the grand Episcopalian church. Here’s a peek at a few more interesting confirmed events.

Daley Plaza, 118 N Clark St; noon–1:15pm
Former band geeks: Ever wanted to participate in a marching-band flash mob? Well, lunchtime in the Loop kicks off with Sousapalooza. Bring your instrument to play four famous Sousa marches, including “Stars and Stripes Forever.” (Download the set list and public-domain sheet music.) Not a tuba or trombone player? No worries: Immediately following is a sing-along of beloved opera and show tunes (shower not included), ranging from Verdi’s “La donna è mobile” to Gershwin’s “Summertime” to Larson’s “Seasons of Love.”

Prudential Plaza, Randolph St and Stetson Ave; 1–1:30pm
Don’t mope, folksters—Sousapalooza might not be your bag, but this handsome outdoor plaza (just north of Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion) hosts the DIY concert Guitar Jam. Come strum to your heart’s content with dozens—maybe even hundreds!—of other guitarists. (A set list, plus a link to chords and lyrics, is here.)

Apple Store Lincoln Park; 801 W North Ave; time TBA
Have toy piano, will travel. Adam Marks—member of the acclaimed chamber group Fifth House Ensemble—performs the aptly named, eight-minute “John Cage Suite for Toy Piano” with his tiny 25-key Schoenhut piano, which his brother customized to look like Van Halen’s guitar.

Belmont Harbor, just south of Belmont Ave; 8–9pm
Before an after-dusk outdoor screening of Dirty Dancing, Make Music Chicago offers karaoke for all American Idol–wanna-bes. What will you choose: a duet featuring “The Time of My Life” or a solo version of “She’s Like the Wind”? (It’s a ballsy move to try to top the Swayze.)

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