Unsilent Night in North Adams
North Adams (85 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247, North Adams MA)
New York composer Phil Kline returns to North Adams with his walking symphony ‘Unsilent Night’ as part of First Fridays North Adams. This free, family-friendly, community event begins promptly at 6 p.m. at Martin Puryear’s Big Bling Installation at 4 Marshall St., weaves through downtown and ends at Hotel Downstreet.
Community members of all ages are invited to gather at the Big Bling starting at 5:30 p.m. and encouraged to dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes, bring a flashlight or lantern, and think creatively about sound amplification: using boomboxes, phones, Bluetooth speakers, or other creative amplified sound devices (the louder the better!) Download the music tracks in advance online or through the Unsilent Night app.
A limited number of Kline’s vintage boomboxes and cassette tapes will be available for use on a first-come, first-served basis.
Now in its 31st year, ‘Unsilent Night’ was first performed in New York’s Greenwich Village as a one-time 45-minute composition. Since then, it has grown into a beloved annual event performed in communities around the world during the winter holiday season. A studio recording, with Bang on a Can, was made in 2001 and is available through Cantaloupe Music.
First produced in North Adams in 2014, Unsilent Night has quickly become a much-anticipated addition to the Northern Berkshire winter event calendar.
“Each year we stroll a different route in the Northern Berkshires with familiar and new faces joining in the fun,” says producer Isabelle Holmes. “We’ve paraded through neighborhoods, down main streets and side streets, and through businesses.” The event has grown to over 80 participants and the musical parade gets the attention of those along the route with honks from passing cars, people coming out of their homes to listen, and others joining in along the way.
Described by the New York Times as “immers[ing] the listener in suspended wonderment, as if time itself had paused inside a string of jingle bells, ‘Unsilent Night’ relies on participants to come together and bring the four tracks of Phil Kline’s composition to life, filling the night with music. Or, as Kline describes it, “It’s like a Christmas caroling party except that we don’t sing but carry boomboxes, each playing a separate tape or CD which is part of the piece. In effect, we become a city-block-long stereo system.”
The 9th installment in the Berkshires is organized and produced by Isabelle Holmes, Todd Reynolds, Molly Hess, Sandra Thomas, Brad Wells, Nico Dery of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, John Tibbetts and Sue Killam of Mass MoCA, and will be hosted this year by First Friday North Adams.
Unsilent Night is supported in part by a grant from the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, First Fridays North Adams, LumiNAMA Holiday Lights Walk, Hotel Downstreet, Silver Therapeutics and Vanessa Hooper’s Antipode Tunnel.