The Vocal Scenes of Make Music New York

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On the longest day of the year, Gotham is one of the many cities to go into extra innings with a daylong festival of free, live music taking over the streets.

Based on Paris’s Fête de la Musique, Make Music New York packs the five boroughs with genres from Gospel to Ska to Cabaret to Folk represented with equal force and energy. Among this year’s star classical offerings is an 18-hour performance of Erik Satie’s Vexations, featuring a tag team of vibraphonists as part of a worldwide initiative surrounding this piece.

Pianist Simon Mulligan takes Gershwin requests via Twitter at lunchtime. And NPR, in conjunction with the Times Square Alliance, is presenting an interactive world premiere of a new choral arrangement by Philip Glass called The New Rule, adapted from the composer’s 1997 digital opera Monsters of Grace (WQXR’s own Kent Tritle leads the chorus).

Beyond that, however, are a number of opportunities to get your classical-vocal kicks. Refill your water bottle and read on for our roundup.

Zoe Vandermeer (3:30–4:30pm)
A musician who boasts talents as both a soprano and harpist, who also recently paid concert tribute to Joan Sutherland this past May, Vandermeer offers up a program at the Columbus New York Public Library (742 Tenth Avenue) titled “Songbirds: Voices of Women in Music.” Performed on a Celtic harp, the program is set to include music from the 18th through 21st centuries.

5BMF: Five Borough Music Festival (3:00–6:00 pm)
The masterminds behind the Five Boroughs Songbook -- a concert that tours both literally and thematically through the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island -- stick to City Hall Park (Chambers St and Centre St). On the non-vocal front, cellist John Mark Rozendaal performs Bach at 4 pm. 

Ilana Kochinska (4:00-5:00pm)
The journey out to Queens, namely Artisound’s Long Island City Music School (44-02 23rd Street) isn’t too great of a schlep, especially when the destination involves music from the Weimar period. Expect Weill and more courtesy of this soprano, a face familiar in both Yiddish music and opera scenes.

New York Virtuoso Singers (6:00–7:00pm)
Harold Rosenbaum’s consort, which fuses a traditional choral pedigree with a focus on commissioning and performing music by contemporary American composers, perform the music of Roger Davidson at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park.

Renaissance Street Singers (6:00–8:00pm)
From Central Park, hop the 1 down to Christopher Street to catch the Renaissance Street Singers’ return to MMNY and get a different side of the choral coin. John Hetland leads his ensemble in a polyphonic tour of the 15th and 16th centuries as part of the group’s commitment to offering free concerts on the streets of New York.

Blue Hill Troupe, Ltd. (6:15–7:30pm)
Over 80 years’ worth of productions has given this group—combining professionals and amateurs alike—a New York niche when it comes to light operas, musicals and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas (they recently performed G&S rarity Utopia Limited at the Museo del Barrio). What they bring to this 75-minute time slot at the Seward Park branch of the NYPL (192 E Broadway) is anyone’s guess.

Soharmoniums (7:00-8:00pm)
Or stay on the Upper West Side and flock to Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Garden (593 Columbus Avenue) to hear this all-female choral group in action, singing a variety of works from various periods under the direction of Elizabeth Nunez, associate conductor of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

Bella Voce Singers (7:00-8:00pm)
The Upper West doesn’t have a monopoly on choral ensembles bereft of the Y-chromosome. The Brooklyn-based Bella Voce Singers descend on Park Slope at the Warren-St. Marks Community Garden (96 St. Marks Place) for a concert that skews towards the contemporary.

Calvary-St. George’s Parish Choir (7:00–8:00pm)
Near the Flatiron at its namesake church (61 Gramercy Park North), we get another sampling of choir music from composers both living and legendary. And if you have a yen to sing, audiences are invited to join in for Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia.”