It’s that time of year again when we throw the door of libraries across the city open and welcome musicians to join us for a day of Music Making. Fete da la Musique, Make Music Day has been celebrated across the world almost from its inception over 40 years ago. Make Music Day was born from a wish to see participation in music making at all levels.
In France under President Mitterrand’s Socialist Party, Maurice Fleuret was appointed at the French Ministry of Culture as Director of Music and Dance with a responsibility for festivals and events. He immediately saw that there was a discrepancy in the number of children and adults able to play musical instruments and the numbers who participated in any form of music making. The plan became that a day each year should be dedicated to music, with no barriers to people playing and enjoying live performance.
Fete da la Musique (Make Music Day) was born. Fleuret’s statement “Music is everywhere and the concert is nowhere” rang loud and the mission statement for the day was set. Amateur and professional musicians should give of their time freely and all performances should to be free to attend. Forty years on those statements are pretty much the same. The three “rules” of Make Music Day are
1. Events and activities must be free to take part in and watch
2. Events must take place or premiere on 21 June
3. Events must involve music.
Year on year the festival has grown, and not just in France. By the early 90s the festival had become an event in approximately 80 countries and now the number stands at around 126 countries around the world. The date, 21 June, was chosen as it is normally the longest day of the year or the summer solstice. If you wished, and some people do, you could have musical events from the early hours when the sun rises to when it sets late in the evening, and those performances could be anywhere – street corners, driveways, concert halls, libraries, bandstands, telephone boxes. Anywhere and everywhere, performed and watched by anyone and everyone.
Our Make Music Day celebrations have grown too, with more libraries hosting events. This year Corstorphine, Craigmillar, Gilmerton, Muirhouse, Portobello and Stockbridge Libraries, to name a few, all join in the celebrations.
Wednesday 21 June
At Central Library, the foyer and lending library will ring to the sounds of music from 2pm on 21 June. Our programme is a mix of old friends – Drookit, the Folk Band, Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra, Sangstream (who have not been with us since 2019) and the Edinburgh Police Choir – and new friends – University of the 3rd Age Ukulele Band, Folk Duo, Alex and Jane, Little Big Horns, Derrick Vellera and Nicolas Chim.
2pm – University of the 3rd Age Ukulele Band
Members of the Third Age University are mostly retired or working part time. They have been together for 7 years. Most have very little music experience to start with! They love to play and sing and perform at care homes, markets and festivals.
2.30pm – Alex and Jane
Alex and Jane are so middle of the road, it’s a wonder they haven’t been run over! Country, some humorous, some classic pop – just an easy-going mixture of guitar and harmonies.
3pm – Drookit
Drookit members initially came together in a Scots Music Group mixed instrument ensemble, playing distinctive folk tunes chosen and arranged by Sarah Northcott.
The six-piece band was created after the musicians performed in the 2018 “Big Tune Machine”, an Edinburgh Festival event organised by fiddler Amy Geddes and guitarist Donald Knox.
Since then they’ve played at the Edinburgh Folk Club, St Giles, for Ukrainian and Polish associations, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Music on the Mezzanine and for various Charities. They are also appearing in this year’s Canal Festival.
4pm – Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra
The Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra (EMGO) is a plucked string orchestra of mandolins, mandolas, classical guitar and bass. Their repertoire of light classical, film and world music is drawn from many countries and traditions. They play concert and recitals several time each year, whether in small group surroundings or large concert venues.
4.30pm – Derrick Vellera
Derrick is a piano player, he is 9 years old and has just started preparing for his piano grade exams.
4.45pm – Nicholas Chim
Nicholas is in S2 at Boroughmuir High School, He is taking guitar lessons at school and has been playing for 3/4yrs.
5pm – Sangstream
Sangstream: a Scots Folk Choir is based in Edinburgh, with weekly rehearsals taking place at James Gillespie’s High School. The choir is open to everyone and there is no audition to join. The repertoire is mainly Scots folk songs, both traditional and modern which are sung in harmony and unaccompanied. Currently the Musical Director is the wonderful Scots singer Robyn Stapleton. Amongst her many accolades, Robyn was the 2014 BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year. Since starting in 1997, Sangstream has had the privilege of being led by some of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians – Christine Kydd, Jenny Clark, Mairi Campbell and Corrina Hewat.
5.30pm – Little Big Horns
Little Big Horns is a saxophone quartet perhaps unusually made up of 5 members (plus guests on occasion) who bring a depth of musical talent and experience with them. Little Big Horns are based in Edinburgh and are a group who enjoy each others company and playing a wide range of music. From jazz to the charts, swinging past classical and TV/film on the way, variety (and fun) are the only constants.
6.15pm – Edinburgh Police Choir
Edinburgh Police Choir (also known as EPC) is a high quality, hard working and friendly contemporary choir, based in the west of Edinburgh. The choir was established in 2008 by members of Lothian and Borders Police but has since developed into a true community choir.
This year there are more of our community libraries taking part and there are music programmes available in Corstorphine, Craigmillar, Gilmerton, Leith, Muirhouse and Stockbridge.
Leith Library is playing host to the Girls Rock School, with performances from Suffrajitsu and Elsie MacDonald from 6.30 to 8pm.
Suffrajitsu are a Leith based feminist punk band. They are well known in Edinburgh for their dancey singalong songs.
Elsie Macdonald is an Edinburgh based folk punk singer with songs which encompass the current political and their own personal world.
Portobello Library is hosting AmaVoxAz and Bria Mason from 2.45pm.
AmavoxAz, was scheduled to be with us last year but was felled by the Covid bug. We are looking forward to his hearing his ambient guitar sounds in Portobello.
Bria a traditional singer songwriter who sings in Gaelic and English.
Corstorphine Library have a visit from local choir the Corstorphine Singers recently formed for singers from the Corstorphine and Drumbrae areas of the city from 3pm. The choir is helping combat isolation and improve health and wellbeing with their programmes of positive and upbeat songs.
The library is presenting two events hosted by Edinburgh singer songwriter Craig Lithgow from 4.30pm. An Electronic Music Workshop which will introduce the attendees to writing catchy hooks and laying down some beats, putting them all together in the workshop’s Hit Factory.
Craig will also host the Edinburgh artists showcase – The Scrapyard, which will highlight works by local artists.
Stockbridge Library sees a return of the Professors of Logic, and before them alumni of the Scots Music Group, Elspeth Porter and two of her colleagues play a programme of traditional music. Music starts at Stockbridge Library from 1.15pm.
Later at 7pm, Gilmerton Library will provide some music to help you to the end of the day from Polonez.
There are Make Music Day Bookbug sessions at Drumbrae, Newington and Portobello at 10.30am, Wester Hailes at 11.00am, and Piershill and Corstorphine at 2pm.
If you’re passing Corstorphine, Craigmillar, Gilmerton, Muirhouse, Portobello, Stockbridge or Central Library, stop in and enjoy some live music!
If you’re inspired by what you see and hear, you can join us next year as a performer.
And did you know that libraries across the city now have musical instruments to borrow?
Please ask any member of staff to explain more about our instrument lending scheme.