A musical movement that has grown to include 116 cities on five continents is coming to Delaware this week.
Local residents are invited to join in this mobile music performance of Phil Kline’s original composition “Unsilent Night” on Thursday. The event will begin outside Ohio Wesleyan University’s Richard M. Ross Art Museum, located at 60 S. Sandusky St.
Originally from Akron, Kline now resides in New York City and is one of the leaders of the vibrant music scene there. “Unsilent Night” was written specifically to be heard outdoors in the month of December, according to Kline. It takes the form of a street promenade in which the audience becomes the performer. Kline founded the event in 1992.
This marks the fourth year that Ohio Wesleyan has hosted the event, organized by OWU Assistant Professor of Music Jennifer Jolley. She said she first discovered Unsilent Night while listening to NPR a few years ago.
“(Kline) said it was something he wanted to give back to the community,” Jolley said. “Being in New York, everything is very fast and frenetic, so he made a four-tape piece — back when they had tapes, in fact I have some of the tapes I burned in my office. He passed out tapes and he asked his friends to come over with their boomboxes and play these four tapes at the same time. And with these analog tape recorders, they’d have different playback speeds and it just kind of created caroling for non-carolers.”
Each participant receives one of four tracks of music in the form of a cassette, CD, or MP3. Together all four tracks comprise “Unsilent Night.” The fact that the participants play different “parts” simultaneously helps create the special sound of the piece.
Participants carry boomboxes, or anything that amplifies music, and simultaneously start playing the music. They 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.
Participants in the Delaware event will meet at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7 at the Ross Museum and then use cellphones, bluetooth speakers, and other audio devices to create this performance piece while walking through Delaware. Visit http://delaware.unsilentnight.com to download the app in advance or for more information.
Jolley said Unsilent Night in Delaware has been fairly well attended during its short history.
“It’s been pretty successful,” she said. “It’s kind of a mix of both (OWU students and community residents). It depends on what time of day I’ve had it in the past and what day of the week. So primarily mostly students, but I’ve had families come by and young children because they can walk and hold a tape recorder or a phone.”
You can follow Unsilent Night on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and participants can post photographs from the Delaware event using #UNSILENTNIGHT.
Oberlin College is hosting an Unsilent Night event on Sunday, according to the schedule on the website.
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