Make Music New York celebrates a decade of free concerts

Get ready to embrace the music, Brooklyn!

For the 10th year, Make Music New York will make its return, celebrating music on a massive scale all throughout the five boroughs.

“Make Music was started 10 years ago by Aaron Friedman,” said Executive Director of Make Music New York Jenny Undercofler. “He’s still around and does similar events all over the country.”

The daylong event that has featured over 1,000 free outdoor concerts of all different types of genres will coincide with Make Music Day, the world’s largest annual music event celebrated in more than 38 cities around the United States.

“It’s modeled after the festival held in France every year,” Undercofler said, adding that it is the international Fête de la Musique. “It’s a holiday. Everyone goes out and makes music on the streets.”

That said, an event of this scale hasn’t always been easy, as organizers have to get permits through the police to facilitate creating concerts all over city. However, Undercofler said that it’s more than worth it. “It’s wonderful for the community because it gives artists the chance to make music and it’s a surprise for people to be walking out of lunch or the office to see what’s happening,” she said.

The concerts aren’t limited to experienced musicians. “We believe everyone should have the chance to make music even if you’re not a professional musician,” Undercofler said, citing the event’s diversity. “It runs the gamut. Some people are in professional bands and others have day jobs.”

Brooklyn will be the host of over 20 Make Music NY events, including ones in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Coney Island.

In Bay Ridge, the top of the hill at Owl’s Head Park will host performances by several artists from 3 to 8 p.m. including Ryan Chatelain (folk, country, acoustic pop) from 3 to 4 p.m., Muswell Hillbillies (country, folk, rock) from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Reverend Mary, aka Mary Elizabeth Micari, (blues, jazz, pop/rock) from 6:15 to 7 p.m., and the Dillon Lane Syndicate (blues, classic rock/pop) from 7:15 to 8 p.m. Panera Bread will offer free cookie coupons for children under 18 years old.

In Sunset Park, in the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, several concerts will be performed outside of stores between noon and 9 p.m.

“There are a lot of businesses involved,” said Undercofler. “We have concerts in front of stores and there are also a couple of things happening over at Grand Army Plaza. There’s a new piece being premiered by Kevin James’s Guerrilla Fanfare.”

As the daylong musical bonanza has grown, people’s interest has also increased. “I talk to people who are  excited that it’s coming back and to see the schedule,” she said. There’s also an app concertgoers can download on their smartphones to find out who is playing and where.

“As Americans, we tend to work too hard and not enjoy beauty,” Undercofler said when describing the importance of the day. “This gives people here a chance to listen to great, free performances.”

Make Music New York takes place all over Brooklyn on Tuesday, June 21, including at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where David Rothenberg’s “Inside the Bird Chorus” will be performed at 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., and in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, which will be the venue for Honk NYC, a celebration of brass bands that incorporates traffic sounds taking place from 4 to 7 p.m. For an entire list of performers, locations, and times for the free concerts, visit

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