Make Music Chicago Festival in Hyde Park

By JAMIE A. COOLEY
Herald Intern

The Make Music Festival is a unique celebration created to appreciate music all over the world and is held annually in over 750 different cities around the world on the same day: Summer Solstice.

The Make Music Festival began about 35 years ago in France, when Jack Lang at the Ministry of Culture had an idea for a holiday just for music, according to the Make Music Day website. This idea is what sprang the free, live music around the world celebration: where music could be heard everywhere on the same day. This could be any type of music played by everyone or anyone.

This year, on Wednesday, June 21, the Make Music Chicago Festival returned to Hyde Park at International House at the University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th St.

Marta Nicholson first brought Make Music Chicago to the International House in 2010 and it has since become an annual event.

This year’s program was very diverse with traditional Japanese music played by Ji Senghe, contemporary piano by Rena Slavin and jazz and puppets by Nitsana Lazarus and John Wesley.

Jeff Wichmann kicked off this event with various compositions played on the koto, which is a very large Japanese string instrument that is plucked and strummed. Wichmann played a few pieces that he composed himself, along with some more traditional songs. Shakuhachi player Ji Senghe played on a traditional Japanese flute made from bamboo. Both Wichmann and Senghe improvised alongside one another and the crowd seemed enlightened by the stage presence of the two.

Global Voices Metcalf Fellow Rena Slavin played three piano pieces ranging from classical to contemporary.

The night ended with a unique performance of “Sax & Sox,” with musician John Wesley on the saxophone and Nitsana Lazerus singing jazz with her puppets and storytelling.

Lazerus is a Hyde Park resident with a quirky and empowering take on the teaching process and has over 25 years under her belt as an educator.

Lazerus works at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club with the “Play and Learn” program. Her puppets are used to grab the interests of children, while also providing storylines with the characters to promote kindness and a fun learning experience for both the children and the parents of the children.

“The kids see the puppets but the parents truly get the message [behind the storylines],” she said. “My dream is to reach people who don’t have knowledge of drama and music. Learning can be fun.”

hpherald@hpherald.com