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New London gets through the longest night of the year with music, joining cities across the globe

Sebastian Reyes llinas of the group Tilted Axes: Standing Still performs in Herald Square during Make Music Winter NYC 2021.
Kris Connor
Sebastian Reyes llinas of the group Tilted Axes: Standing Still performs in Herald Square during Make Music Winter NYC 2021.

Every summer solstice, hundreds of cities and towns around the globe celebrate Make Music Day, a chance for musicians and music lovers to enjoy a day full of free, outdoor music events. The very first Make Music Day was in France in 1982. About a decade ago, organizers started Make Music Winter with the same idea in mind.

On the longest night of the year, many cities brave the chilly weather to usher in the winter solstice with music, including New London, Connecticut. New London’s celebration will be held at The Telegraph record store, and it features one of the signature events of Make Music Winter — Bell by Bell.

“We get a bunch of bells, different colored bells,” said Rich Martin, owner of The Telegraph. “This is for novices as well as seasoned musicians. It's sort of like, ‘All right, blue bells go! Green bells go!’ and you point to the different groups when it’s their turn to play and it makes this wonderful music.” Several prominent musicians have written music specifically for Bell by Bell, including Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Glenn Kotche of Wilco.

Martin said both the winter and summer events bring the community together in a special way.

“It’s been a really cool way to celebrate just the diversity of our musical community and spread the love around and have people get introduced to some new music,” Martin said.

Also joining the festivities in New London is Thrice A Chuckle, an indie rock band that specializes in original songs for the holidays. The event gets underway Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 4 p.m. at The Telegraph.

Norwich and Mystic are also planning Make Music Winter events on Wednesday.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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