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Make Music Rochester to celebrate summer solstice

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If anything can transcend the barriers that separate us, be it economics, race, culture, or even neighborhoods, Community Design Center Interim Director Maria Furgiuele believes it is music. With help from the Make Music Alliance, Bernunzio Uptown Music co-owner Julie Schnepf, and other committee members, Furgiuele is introducing to Rochester Make Music Day, a worldwide musical celebration of the summer solstice.

Rochester will join more than 750 cities around the world that participate in the festival on Wednesday, June 21, with free music performances, events, and lessons at locations around the city.

The event originated in France as a pop-up music festival, Fête de la Musique ("festival of music"), which began in 1982 as a celebration to honor the longest day of the year. The country takes the day off to unite in their shared love of music, creating beats on the corners of streets, balconies and front lawns, rooftops, and storefronts. The idea was that anyone could play any music anywhere with anything, and that's exactly what Furgiuele is envisioning for Rochester.

"The primary goal is to create an event with universal appeal and that is as inclusive as possible, that people of all ages and all skill levels can participate in," Furgiuele says.

The Community Design Center is a local organization that strives to improve communities by educating and advocating for quality environmental and neighborhood design. Part of the work the CDC does includes community development and inclusion.

Furgiuele says that she stumbled upon the French festival by sheer luck in 1987, but not realizing it was an annual event, never gave it a second thought. When she began searching for community programming ideas for the CDC, she learned that Make Music Day became a global event years ago. She knew it would be a good opportunity to get people out of their homes and into the city, interacting with others at specific venues, on the sidewalk, or in their own yards.

The hope is that a majority of the music being played around the city will be organic and spontaneous; however, there are also performances, classes, and jam circles scheduled from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Record Archive Owner Dick Storms will be hosting a harmonica class at his store (33 ⅓ Rockwood Street) from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The first 25 participants will receive a free Hohner harmonica, courtesy of Bernunzio, and the store will have extra harmonicas for sale. People are also encouraged to bring their own. Storms will teach participants how to play "Oh Susanna," the first song he learned to play on a harmonica when he was a boy.

"I want people to walk away understanding that it's fun to play harmonica," Storms says. "If we can get everybody to the first few bars, they will have enough knowledge to keep playing. I want people to have the satisfaction of picking up a simple, small instrument they can keep in their pocket and play anytime."

Singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Dan van Leeuwen is one of many performers scheduled to play during the day. The 21-year old has been playing guitar since he was 13, but only recently began performing in venues like Boulder Coffee and Lovin' Cup. Van Leeuwen will perform three, hour-long sets: at Bernunzio's (122 East Avenue) at noon, Hart's (10 Winthrop Street) at 1 p.m., and Tower280 (280 E. Broad Street) at 2 p.m.

"I'm looking forward to hopefully connecting with people, singing songs they haven't heard in awhile that take them back," van Leeuwen says. "Maybe it was a song their father or grandfather used to sing to them."

For a complete schedule and info about how to participate as a performer or by providing a venue, visit makemusicroc.org.

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