Preview: Make Music Chicago Celebrates the Solstice Throughout Chicago on Thursday

On the first full day of summer this Thursday, music making will erupt across Chicago as residents of all ages and musical abilities participate in Make Music Chicago. This free, DIY celebration, hosted by the International Music Foundation and led by Artistic Director Kuang-Hao Huang, is part of the worldwide music holiday, Fête de la Musique, which takes place every June 21. Chicago will join over 800 cities in 120 countries around the world.

64 venues, including parks, streets, concert halls, coffee houses, and other locales throughout Chicago, will be playing host to over 200 Make Music Chicago events this year. The public can enjoy free performances from several groups, ensembles, and soloists, with nearly every musical style represented. There will be many opportunities for people to sing-along, play their own instruments, and, for the first time, learn how to play instruments.

Several neighborhood venues will have performances all day. House music will predominate when over 20 DJs spin their wares from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm in the South Loop at Fred Anderson Park and Hyde Park at the Midway Plaisance: Fieldhouse Rooftop. Also in Hyde Park, the International House will feature performers of world, Indian, Jazz, Asian, punk, electronic, and other genres, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

In Lincoln Park, the DePaul University concert hall will have chamber ensembles, solo pianists, and folk performers, 10:30 am – 8:00 pm. In Bronzeville, the Ellis Park Art and Recreation Center will have performances of Afrobeat, R&B, Soul, Latin, electronic and other music from 11:15 am to 7:45 pm. A similar line-up can also be heard at the High Concept Labs at Mana Contemporary Chicago in Pilsen, noon – 7:00 pm, as well as at the gazebo in Welles Park in Lincoln Square, 10:00 am – 8:30 pm.

Free music lessons will also be available around town. The Pianos in the Parks program will offer instruction to anyone wanting to play the piano. Several parks are hosting: Daley Plaza, 1:00-2:00 pm; Washington Square Park and Mozart Park, 3:00-4:00 pm; Buttercup Park, 4:00-5:00 pm; and Jackson Park and McKinley Park, 5:00-6:00 pm. Anyone wanting to learn how to play the violin and percussion can go to Navy Pier, 1:00 – 2:00 pm.

Introductory lessons for guitar and harmonica will be available with the Young Stracke All-Stars at Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square, 2:00 – 3:45 PM. This will be part of an all-ages, all skill levels, family-friendly music jam.  Afterwards, the Chicago Flute Club will hold a flute choir reading session where flutists of all ages and skill levels will be able to join, 4:00 – 5:00 pm. In the Sousapalooza Band Play, the Navy Band Great Lakes will lead over 100 winds, brass and percussion, 5:30-6:30 pm. The music making in Wrigley Square will end with the Lift Every Voice Sing-along, which will celebrate the rich diversity our community, 6:30 – 7:00 pm.

Several orchestras will be participating in Make Music Chicago. The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra will be performing at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, 10:30 am – 1:00 pm. The Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra will offer a side-by-side, play-along rehearsal from 3:00 – 5:00 pm and a play-along performance from 6:00 – 7:00 pm in Humboldt Park. The Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra will offer lessons on all of the orchestra instruments at 400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest, 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

There are many other play-along/sing-along opportunities throughout the day. ABBA fans can dance and sing-along to their favorite ABBA songs, accompanied by live musicians from trucks that will be traversing the city throughout the day.

Guitar and string players can play-along and sing-along to folk music, Tin Pan Alley numbers, and country music during the Ursa Majors and Minors lunch-time gathering. Anyone may bring an instrument and join in at Café Brauer –The Great Hall, 2021 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, 12:15 – 1:15 pm. Drummers and percussionists may join the Rhythm Revolution Drum Circle 6:30 – 9:30 pm at Mozart Park, during which there will be a djembe performance at 7:30 and a taiko performance at 8:15.

For a complete and up-to-the-minute list of events, including all play-alongs and sing-alongs, check out the Make Music Chicago Schedule or download the Make Music Day app for iOS or Android. Programming is subject to change; several performances are “weather permitting,” so check on-line.


Louis Harris
Louis Harris

A lover of music his whole life, Louis Harris has written extensively from the early days of punk and alternative rock. More recently he has focused on classical music, especially chamber ensembles. He has reviewed concerts, festivals, and recordings and has interviewed composers and performers. He has paid special attention to Chicago’s rich and robust contemporary art music scene. He occasionally writes poetry and has a published novel to his credit, 32 Variations on a Theme by Basil II in the Key of Washington, DC. He now lives on the north side of Chicago, which he considers to be the greatest city in the country, if not the world. Member of the Music Critics Association of North America.