As the world continues to slowly recover from COVID-19, and weddings, reunions and other events return to our calendars, a Minnesota State University Moorhead percussion professor hopes to bring people together with music later this month to honor the many losses and celebrate reasons to hope.

“If you haven’t lost someone, you’ve lost something,” says Kenyon Williams, chair of the School of Performing Arts. “You’ve lost an event or a job. We hope Make Music Day will help people let go and move on a little bit.”

Williams, who is spearheading this year’s Make Music Day on June 21, intended on hosting the event in 2020 and introducing the community to its flagship soundscape piece, “Flowerpot Music.” Of course, it was canceled last year due to COVID.

This year, however, the show will go on — all over the world. The music festival has an international reach, with cities around the globe celebrating in their own unique ways.

“When we heard about the plan to bring back this amazing public music-making event, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to host it. I can’t wait to bring together community members of all ages to participate in the day’s events,” Williams says.

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Always free and open to people of all ages and abilities, Make Music launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique. Today, it is now held on the same day in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries, including more than 50 in the United States.

Varying Degrees Trio is (from left) Lucas Bernier, Kenyon Williams and Tom Christianson. David Arntson / Minnesota State University Moorhead / Special to The Forum
Varying Degrees Trio is (from left) Lucas Bernier, Kenyon Williams and Tom Christianson. David Arntson / Minnesota State University Moorhead / Special to The Forum

‘This Moment in Time’

Part of MSUM’s Make Music Day includes an international series of gentle song performances in public places worldwide to memorialize the past year and look forward to a new beginning.

“This Moment in Time,” set for noon outdoors on the quad of MSUM’s main campus, includes participants playing gongs for one uninterrupted hour. Anyone is welcome to play a gong, while others are encouraged to sit or stand and listen.

Williams said the collaborative performance will be unlike anything people have heard before. “It’s really neat to be on the quad because it’s enclosed where it’s nice and resonant for the sound. Kind of like a surround sound bell chime,” he said.

Varying Degrees Trio performs “Metavita” by Casey Cangelosi. David Arntson / Minnesota State University Moorhead / Special to The Forum
Varying Degrees Trio performs “Metavita” by Casey Cangelosi. David Arntson / Minnesota State University Moorhead / Special to The Forum

'Flowerpot Music'

Groups of musicians and non-musicians alike will assemble in parks, fields and public squares across the globe to learn and premiere “Flowerpot Music,” a unique composition specially composed for Make Music Day by Elliot Cole.

Cole, who lives in New York and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, initially came up with the idea after a friend challenged him to write a piece that could be performed by just about anyone.

“'Flowerpot Music' is an evolving collection of games, improvisation scores, and sonic meditations employing the humble flowerpot,” Cole says. “I've refined the piece over the years, as the project has been expanding. This year on Make Music Day, people will perform it in nearly 50 cities. The best part is that it's an event that anyone and everyone can participate in.”

MSUM will host its own rendition of “Flowerpot Music” beginning with a practice session at 6:30 p.m. on the quad, or inside the Roland Dille Center for the Arts if there’s inclement weather. All are welcome to participate in the free event.

“While ‘This Moment in Time’ is a solemn musical event of remembrance, ‘Flowerpot Music’ will be a truly joyous, interactive experience for everyone who can bring a flowerpot, open ears and an open heart to campus,” Williams says.

Varying Degrees Trio performs “Musique de Tables” by Thierry de Mey. David Arntson / Minnesota State University Moorhead / Special to The Forum
Varying Degrees Trio performs “Musique de Tables” by Thierry de Mey. David Arntson / Minnesota State University Moorhead / Special to The Forum

A brief performance by Williams’ Varying Degrees Percussion Trio will precede the grand finale of “Flowerpot Music” around 8 p.m. when participants will gather for their performance.

“There’s no reading ability. It’s all done by ear,” he said. “It’s going to be gorgeous to sit and listen, too. You’re going to hear these little musical ideas all over the quad. We’re very excited.”

MSUM’s Make Music day is sponsored by Lake Region Arts Council, Vic Firth, Mike Balter Mallets, the National Association of Music Merchandisers and MSUM School for Performing Arts.

Make Music Day lineup

Noon: “This Moment in Time” international gong remembrance (livestream the MSUM performance at https://www.makemusicday.org)

6:30 p.m.: "Flowerpot Music" practice

7:30 p.m.: Varying Degrees Trio performance

8 p.m.: "Flowerpot Music" performance (livestream the MSUM performance at https://www.makemusicday.org/national-projects/flowerpot-music/)

If you go

What: Make Music Day at Minnesota State University Moorhead

When: Monday, June 21

Where: MSUM outdoor quad (Roland Dille Center for the Arts in the case of rain)

Who: Events are free and open to the public to participate or attend and listen. Participants should bring a flowerpot or ceramic bowl of any size that makes noise. Any age can participate with no music reading ability required. Some extra flowerpots will be provided.

Registration: “This Moment in Time” gong remembrance, https://fb.me/e/3Ob6NudUf; “Flowerpot Music” rehearsal and performance, https://fb.me/e/12ZnqY5SQ

Info: makemusicday.org

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.