Nearly 40 years ago, a French culture minister conceived of the idea of celebrating the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year, as an all-day public celebration of music and music-making. Since then, 120 countries around the world have joined the cause, marking June 21 as Fête de la Musique, or Make Music Day.
The celebration is intended to encourage anyone and everyone, both amateur and professional musicians alike, to sing and play musical instruments out in public, with the stipulation that all such performances and concerts be free and open to all.
While D.C. has yet to officially join in the tradition or become members of the Make Music Alliance (www.makemusicday.org), one local performing arts organization has signed on for its own spin on the festivities — and on its own time too, a full day before the rest of the world.
On Sunday, June 20, Opera Lafayette will stream 12 hours of free classical music, a mix of new performances and programs created exclusively for the event, and interspersed throughout with curated selections from the company’s recorded productions of centuries-old, period-instrument opera that have garnered it international recognition over the last 20 years.
The day starts at 8 a.m. with the virtual “Morning Meditation with Bach,” in which lutist Thomas Dunford performs from the hidden D.C. idyll known as the Tregaron Conservancy.
The morning continues with Opera Lafayette’s interactive educational program geared for children “Opera Starts With Oh!,” a recital by mezzo-soprano Caitlin Hulcup and pianist Ammiel Bushakevitz filmed in the historic Edvard Grieg house in Germany, and footage from the company’s reimagined production of Philidor’s opéra comique The Blacksmith preceded by The Making of: The Blacksmith, a behind-the-scenes look at the production, which was performed before a live audience at a Colorado ranch during the pandemic.
Afternoon highlights include two recitals with harpsichordist Justin Taylor recorded for the company from the Parisian mansion the Fondation Singer-Polignac, one featuring French mezzo-soprano Anna Reinhold; another Opera Starts with Oh! Session; and two Salon Series conversations, one with members of the Opera Lafayette Orchestra focused on their instruments, the other an “Opera and Dance” discussion with the company’s founder and artistic director Ryan Brown, noted New York-based choreographer Sèan Curran, Anuradha Nehru of Kalanidhi Dance, and Catherine Turocy of the New York Baroque Dance Company.
The music streams from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. Visit www.operalafayette.org.
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