The 16th Street Mall was buzzing with music last week as artists of all shapes and sizes filled the air with their collective auditory gifts for Make Music Denver. This was the first time that Denver participated in World Music Day; it joined 450 other cities thanks to the efforts of the Downtown Denver Partnership.
Throughout the day, collaboration and cooperation drove the music to a new level of unified sound. Starting at 10 a.m. with the Whirl of Woodwinds and Horde of Horns, Skyline Park rang with the collective voices of gathered instruments. Make Music Denver encouraged all levels to join the jam sessions, gave the musicians sheet music and basked in the magnificence of creative expression. A family of ukelele players joined the woodwinds bright and early, adding another layer to their rendition of the theme song, "Make Music Denver," created by Mike Maurer, Matt Need and Kate LeRoux. The chorus - "Make music Denver - make a happy sound / Make music Denver -- and spread it all around" -- and other lyrics express the cooperative and all-encompassing theme of the event as well as Denver's own flavor.
One particular group embodied the concepts of world music and coming together, which even shines through in their name: Confluence Music Group. This conglomeration of lively, diverse musicians combines Pop, Blues, Urban, Raggae, Motown and Latin music into their repertoire. The keyboardist expressed the groups desire to "pick somebody up" and spread good music. Confluence itself means "come together," and the group certainly attracts a variety of artists interested in sharing their music. Along with playing at lots of benefits and fundraising events, members Confluence Music Group also travel to out of the way places such as Thailand, China, Italy and Honduras to spread their message even farther.
Pianos throughout the Mall sat open for the public to enjoy and utilize in their bands. The beautifully-painted instruments also added to the feng shui of the street, highlighting once again the cooperative nature of music stressed in this event. Bands and solo musicians found open spots on the street to add to the blanket of music throughout the day. Playing for themselves or to a crowd, musicians filled the streets with their own soundtrack to the city co-mingling with the screeching buses and crying babies that always pepper the streets.
At 11:30 a.m. Pick Up America, a non-profit organization dedicated to cleaning up the country, initiated a drum circle in Skyline Park. It was more of an obscure oval than a circle because the "drums" the group provided consisted of pieces of garbage retrieved out of the Mississippi River and fashioned together into an amorphous musical trash monster. Pick Up America provided drum sticks and encouraged everyone to test their skill at the make-shift musical instrument.
Participation ranged from a fifteen-month-old baby to a talented harmonica player. One of the members of the non-profit group told the crowd, "We're just a bunch of kids havin' fun. Come have fun with us!" As more people joined in to create a rhythmic roar, the entire park filled with joyful music-making and bounced off the buildings, inviting the rest of the world to share in the magic.
Make Music Denver was about spreading music and peace and coming together to create something beautiful and big. It succeeded.
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