Tecora Rogers (Tribune file photo)
The first day of summer was a good excuse for making music Tuesday, as the Make Music Chicago event attracted musicians of many styles sharing their sounds at various public locations.
From the North Side and Evanston, to downtown and the South Side, the free, day-long event featured professional and amateur musicians performing for — and playing with — music lovers of all ages, all part of the “Fete de la Musique,” which has been a French national holiday since 1982 and has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon encompassing celebrations in more than 460 cities in over 110 countries, according to Make Music Chicago’s website. Held every year on June 21, the festival also commemorates the beginning of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
“The idea of this festival is people sharing their love of music,” said Marta Nicholas, one of Make Music Chicago’s organizers for events in Hyde Park.
As the host of “Music Around the World” on the University of Chicago’s radio station WHPK-FM (88.5), Nicholas particularly gravitated towards Make Music Chicago as a way to bring the event to the South Side.
“We wanted to make sure that there was something here, because a lot of people may not normally go downtown,” she said. “And we also wanted to get the idea across that it should be all over the city, in all the neighborhoods.”
This year marked the first time Chicago has participated in the event on a large scale, in which professional musicians performed at office buildings, schools, the lakefront and other locales, and onlookers were encouraged to participate via song or instrument.
Tecora Rogers was one of ten musicians on tap to perform at the U. of C.’s International House Tuesday. After her vocal set, which ranged from gospel to Billy Strayhorn jazz standards, Rogers talked about her enthusiasm for the event.
“I met a woman who had gone downtown today, who said, ‘I’ve been going all over the city trying to hit all of these places for Make Music,’” said Rogers, who as a jazz and gospel vocalist spends much of her time playing shows outside of Chicago, as well as on the Spirit of Chicago cruises.
“Things like today, it’s great,” she said. “Because people get to hear you, you get to meet people, and they get a feel for Chicago music.”
Although the threat of rain loomed over the festivities in the daytime, by evening participants were indoors celebrating the solstice at Make Music Chicago’s wrap-up near the Mag Mile, at the St. James Cathedral.
“What a fantastic opportunity to not only reach audiences, but to hear other great musicians playing their hearts out as well,” said Anita Chase, whose band Mad Poet performed at several locations on the Near North Side, and who also turned out for the grand finale at St. James. “And knowing that all around the world, other artists were sharing their music at the same time made it even better.”
Back on the South Side, Nicholas says she looks forward to being part of the second installment of Make Music Chicago next year, and is hopeful for expanding the event to other parts of town beyond Hyde Park.
“We’ve been trying to plant the idea that summer solstice day is ‘Make Music Day’ all around the world,” says Nicholas. “And so people should sing, or play, or hum, or whistle — even if it’s off-key — and remember it’s one of the great things of being a human being, is that we have music.”