Make Music celebrates the summer solstice with 100 free performances

Autumn Jones
Kadence Arts
Berklee student Autumn Jones is among the many performers in the fifth annual Make Music Boston Festival.

Thursday marks the summer solstice, meaning there are only six more months until darkness is falling at the dismal hour of 4 p.m. once again. If you needed another reason to get out and enjoy the abundance of daylight, the fifth annual Make Music Boston Festival is bringing more than 100 free live performances to streets, parks, cafes, and other public spaces.

“The first few years were really small, but the past years have really grown in breadth,” says festival founder and percussionist Maria Finkelmeier. “Our big mission this year was to expand into more neighborhoods, and kind of de-centralize.” 

Boston’s festival is just one in hundreds of Make Music days, which take place around the world on June 21. While any musician regardless of age, experience, or genre can register for a slot, the festival also sponsors and promotes four site-specific anchor performances. “My mind goes to ‘Let’s create public art that is site-specific and new, and let’s empower artists to use our city as a canvas,’” says Finkelmeier. “I thought that was a nice juxtaposition to opening up venues. We have bands that come with their repertoire, and then we have the four anchors, that are projects made specifically for these spaces.”


Here’s are just a few of Thursday’s highlights. A full guide and map is available at The schedule is subject to change.


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For a full day of musical fun for the whole family, look no further than the festival’s three anchor performances in Boston. Start in Roxbury at the Dudley Cafe’s “Crayon Box,” where anyone can create a colorful graphic score and hear it performed by a trio of voice, bass, and saxophone (2-4:30 p.m.). Afterward, head to the Edgar Allen Poe statue at Charles and Boylston streets for “Ring a Bell” with Thread Ensemble, where two violinists and a vibraphonist will lead bell-ringing audience members and passersby in a participatory piece (5-6 p.m.). Finally, amble over to the Esplanade to wander through the soundscape of “Water Music,” where you’ll hear works inspired by the Charles River for more than 50 brass players and vocalists, written by local composers (7:30-9 p.m.).


Catch the next generation of Boston’s artists at Magazine Beach with this showcase of youth musicians from Cambridge and Mattapan. The three-hour event is produced, designed, and performed by teens, under the mentorship of musician and educator Devin Ferreira. The event also features lawn games, free yoga, and visual art making. Magazine Beach Park, 719 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, 5-8 p.m.


This Berklee-trained vocalist plans to bring out a bank of loop pedals for mellow, bittersweet neo-soul and jazz. She frequently sings in her native Polish. Boston Common adjacent to the Visitors Center, 11 a.m.-noon; Brewer’s Fountain on Boston Common, 4-5 p.m.; Aeronaut Brewing Co., 15 Tyler St., Somerville, 6-6:45 p.m.


She writes songs, she trains in Indian classical music, and she improvises with her mandolin, voice, and violin. Her percussive solo rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” on YouTube is hauntingly gorgeous. Catch her on your lunch break. 125 Summer St. at High Street Plaza, noon-1:30 p.m.



Not just any guy with a guitar, Boston-based musician Prateek’s honest, elegant songcraft and luminous voice capture the ear and heart immediately. 200a Linden Square, Wellesley, 2-3 p.m.


Violinist Natalie Calma and clarinetist Kevin Price experiment and explore with new classical and traditional Venezuelan music.Boston Center for the Arts Plaza, 539 Tremont St., 4-5 p.m.


Berklee student Autumn Jones lays down slinky, cool, and smart neo-soul and R&B with the help of a tight backing band. Listen if you like SZA (anecdotally, the two attended the same New Jersey high school, though years apart). Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover St., 5-6 p.m.


This Turkish ensemble performs energetic dance music on traditional instruments such as oud, kemence, and ney. Add the Mara Bettencourt Quartet’s set afterward, and the picturesque landscape of the Eustis Estate, and you’ve got a solid reason to take a trip to Milton. Eustis Estate, 1424 Canton Ave., Milton, 5:30-6:30 p.m.


The high-energy swagger and infectious grooves of this funk band will get you on your feet. No, that 10-hour time slot isn’t an error, though if you show up between 3 and 7 p.m. you’ll be able to sample the wares at the nearby farmer’s market. Please clap. Dudley Town Common, 383 Dudley St., Roxbury, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Zoë Madonna can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten.