(HUDSON, N.Y.) – “Unsilent Night,” an interactive, seasonally themed new-music work by composer Phil Kline, will make its Hudson debut as part of the city’s 20th anniversary Winter Walk celebration on Saturday, December 3, at 5pm.
Originally created as a work for boomboxes when it debuted in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1992, Kline’s ethereal holiday street parade – “one of the loveliest communal new-music experiences you’ll ever encounter,” according to TimeOut New York – has been updated for the digital era, with its own app that can stream to smartphones and wireless speakers. The sum effect of a community performance of the work is that of a mobile sound sculpture which is unique from every listener’s perspective.
“‘Unsilent Night’ is like a Christmas caroling party except we don’t sing, but rather carry boomboxes,” says composer Kline, who splits his time between New York City, where he hosts a popular weekday radio program featuring devoted to new composers on WQXR’s Q2 Music station, and Columbia County. “We’re each playing a separate audio track that is part of the piece. In effect, we become a city-block-long stereo system.”
From its humble roots in Washington Square Park in 1992, “Unsilent Night” has grown to worldwide acclaim, playing in 100 cities across five continents. For the Hudson performance, Kline himself will conduct and lead the revelry (this isn’t always the case).
Participants are welcome to bring their portable music players, including boomboxes, tape decks, or smartphones and wireless or wired speakers, to Basilica Hudson at 4pm on Saturday, December 3. A limited number of vintage boomboxes from Kline’s own collection, as well as a selection of CDs and cassettes, will be made available to participants on a first-come, first-served basis.
Everyone is welcome to participate by streaming the free “Unsilent Night” app, which randomly selects one of the four tracks to play on a mobile phone or portable sound device. Kline will be at the Basilica to give instructions before the crowd moves to the intersection of Front Street and Warren Street for a 5pm step-off. The parade will work its way up Warren Street to the Seventh Street Park as the music swells to its grand finale.
Thanks to a partnership with Wave Farm, “Unsilent Night” will be broadcast live from Winter Walk on WGXC 90.7 FM throughout the upper Hudson Valley and streamed online at wgxc.org. WGXC will also be interviewing Kline in the lead-up to the event.
About UNSILENT NIGHT
“Unsilent Night” is an original composition by Phil Kline, written specifically to be heard outdoors in the month of December, always as a free event. It takes the form of a street promenade in which the audience becomes the performer. Each participant gets one of four tracks of music. Originally the music was played using only cassette tapes in boomboxes, but as vintage boomboxes have become harder to find, more people use smartphones with portable speakers to blast the music (by streaming audio or using the free “Unsilent Night” app which randomly selects one of the tracks to play). Together all four tracks comprise “Unsilent Night”. Participants start playing their devices simultaneously, then walk a carefully chosen route through their city’s streets, creating a unique mobile sound sculpture which is different from every listener’s perspective.
The media has caught on to this growing cult-phenomenon, with coverage and critical praise from NPR, Channel 13 Metrofocus, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, The Village Voice, Flavorpill, New York Magazine, New York Post, among many others.
About PHIL KLINE
Phil Kline is the creator and composer of “Unsilent Night”, an interactive holiday musical experience held yearly in December. His other compositions include “Zippo Songs and Rumsfeld Songs,” “The Blue Room and Other Stories” for string quartet, and “Exquisite Corpses” for the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Kline also hosts a popular weekday radio program on WQXR’s Q2 Music station in New York City. He is currently collaborating on a new opera, “The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla,” with director Robert Wilson and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.
About WAVE FARM
Wave Farm is a non-profit arts organization driven by experimentation with broadcast media and the airwaves. Wave Farm programs — Transmission Arts, WGXC-FM, and Media Arts Grants — provide access to transmission technologies and support artists and organizations that engage with media as an art form. Wave Farm’s WGXC 90.7-FM is a creative community radio station. Hands-on access and participation activate WGXC as a public platform for information, experimentation, and engagement. Over 100 volunteer programmers produce shows. Community programs include news and music produced by residents of Greene and Columbia counties in New York, as well as syndicated national programs produced by Pacifica. WGXC commits over 60 hours a week to transmission art and experimental sound. Learn more at wavefarm.org
ABOUT THE HUDSON OPERA HOUSE
The Hudson Opera House is a cultural beacon in the Hudson Valley, offering a dynamic year-round schedule of music, theater, dance, literature, workshops for youth and adults, as well as family programs and large-scale community events such as Winter Walk. Located in an historic landmark that houses New York State’s oldest surviving theater, the Opera House is currently undergoing a complete transformation, starting with the restoration of its magnificent performance hall. Opening with an inaugural season in spring 2017, the new Hudson Opera House will reflect Hudson’s rich history in a modern facility that welcomes residents and visitors from throughout our local community, across the nation, and around the globe.