You wouldn’t know it from the freakish weather (60 degrees today) here in the Center of the Universe but it’s Christmas time and that means it’s time for Phil Kline to lead a massive chorus of boomboxes through the streets of Greenwich Village in the 15th annual holiday presentation of his legendary UNSILENT NIGHT.
The fun starts this Saturday, December 16 at 7:00 pm, at the arch in Washington Square Park. You know the drill: Kline puts the different parts of his composition on cassettes, and distributes them to those who show up at Washington Square. At the given signal, everyone simultaneously pressses PLAY. When the cassettes start rolling, “they blossom into a marvelously crafted symphony” (Time Out New York) and the crowd begins to snake eastward, following a pre-determined route until the piece ends in Tompkins Square Park less than an hour and a mile later.
Since its debut in 1992, UNSILENT NIGHT has become a cult holiday tradition in NY and around the world, drawing crowds of up to 1,500 participants. This year will see (actually some of them have already happened) repeat presentations in San Francisco, Philadelphia, San Diego, Vancouver BC, Middlesbrough (England), and Sydney, Australia, as well as the first ever performances in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Baltimore, Charleston, Rochester, Asheville, Milledgeville (Georgia), Banff (Alberta, Canada), and the Yukon Territory. This past February, a new version of UNSILENT NIGHT was presented at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, as part of a sound art festival in the Alps.
You’re strongly encouraged to bring your own boomboxes, for which Kline will provide tapes. Which raises an interesting question: where do you find boomboxes these days. Haven’t they gone the way of the 8-track?
Yeah, so get with it Phil. Let’s have the silent UNSILENT NIGHT with a bunch of people wandering around the Village with their ears stuffed with iPod ear thingies. Positively Fourth Street Cageian.
Our friend Brian Sacawa led the first-ever Baltimore version of UNSILENT NIGHT on Friday night and has video to prove it.