International House to Host Musicians for Make Music Chicago

By Rena Slavin
Global Voices Metcalf Fellow

On Wednesday, June 21, International House at the University of Chicago will welcome performers as a participating venue of Make Music Chicago. Part of a decades-long global tradition, Make Music Chicago is an annual, collective celebration of music featuring dozens of free concerts across the city.

The local festival is based on the French Fête de la Musique, held for the first time in 1982. Maurice Fleuret, Director of Music and Dance under Minister of Culture Jack Lang, was inspired to create an event that would celebrate people’s ability to make music regardless of skill level. He wanted a day for everyone – amateurs and professionals alike – to make music in the streets. Over the last 35 years, Fête de la Musique has grown to include more than 700 cities in 120 countries.

Fleuret’s idea came to Chicago in 2011, with Rush Hour Concert’s first Make Music Chicago celebration. Now organized by the International Music Foundation, a champion of accessible and inclusive musical performances for over 40 years, Make Music Chicago continues to aim to make the longest day of the year, June 21, also the most musical.

Inspired by the community spirit at the core of Fête de la Musique’s mission, Marta Nicholas—host of WHPK’s Music Around the World—has brought the festival to Hyde Park and International House for the last several years. She echoes the event’s original mission—a day that would encourage people to freely express themselves through music: “If you’re not a musician, stick your head out the window and whistle, even if it’s off-key, and join this great wave of music that’s circling the globe.”

At this year’s local Make Music Chicago performances, members of the Hyde Park community will be exposed to a uniquely diverse program, ranging from a classical string quartet, to a Spanish guitar, to traditional Japanese instruments, to a jazz-inspired puppet show.

Performances at International House, 1414 E. 59th St., will take place from 11:30 a.m. to noon, and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The morning concert will feature the Volta String Quartet, which will be performing Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and George Walker’s Lyric for Strings simultaneously with other string quartets across the country. This performance is part of the Lift Every Voice Project—a musical statement about racial justice aiming to honor victims of hate crimes and promote unity in a divided population.

International House’s evening performances, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., include Jeff Wichmann playing the koto, a Japanese plucked string instrument; Ji Senghe playing the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute; Rena Slavin, a member of the University of Chicago Piano Program; and Sox and Sax, an interactive, jazz-themed puppet show presented by Nitsana Lazarus and John Wesley.

In addition to the International House program, Carlo Basile—an accomplished classical Spanish guitarist—will be performing from noon to 2 p.m. in the Sky Lobby of the Center for Care and Discovery of the University of Chicago Medical Center, 5841 S. Maryland Ave.

All Make Music Chicago events are free and open to the public. For more information about Make Music Chicago programming in Hyde Park, please contact Marta Nicholas at

Make Music Chicago at International House is co-sponsored by the Global Voices Performing Arts Series. For more information about other Global Voices Events and co-sponsorship opportunities, or for persons with disabilities who may require assistance, please contact Mary Beth DeStefano at 773-753-2274 or