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Boombox Santa

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If Santa Claus knew about this, he'd be happy. Christmas, after all, is about sharing something with others and about openness. All of this plays a part in an event which has been enchanting music lovers all over the USA: Unsilent Night.

This is how it works: Bring your old Boombox or any old Tape playing device and walk the streets playing an audio cassette with music. The sounds of the tapes will mix and move, as the participants wander around and create an ever-shifting listening experience. If you don't have a Boombox, you can come anyway and the organisors will provide you with one of theirs. The idea is extremely simple and just as wonderful and sprung from the mind of composer Phil Kline. His floating and glistening sound scapes rich with subtle harmonics are the core of the performance. Kline started the project in 1992 out of curiosity and "because he wanted to have a Christmas Party". He describes the first "Unsilent Night" as follows: "It was one of those experiments that worked beyond expectation. The music spread and filled the air in such a way that it was difficult to pinpoint where it was coming from even when in the middle of it. The sound mass seemed alive, blurring and oscillating due to slight variations in speed and pitch, and a constantly evolving polyphony was created in the moving throng as one could hear individual machines suddenly coming into focus, then receding back into the overall cloud of sound." His idea has grown ever since: 2004 saw 500 people play his pieces on 100 Boomboxes! For Kline, it's only one part of an ever-growing repertoire which relies heavily on commissions and ranges from a "Partita for nine stringed instruments" to an entire "Tape Orchestra".

It's an excellent time of the year to start finding out about this great composer and a good way to go about that is to either join Phil at the Arch in Washington Square (New York) at 6:45 pm, where proceedings will begin at 7 pm or to buy the accompanying CD at Cantaloupe Music. And if you'd like to organise an event of your own, drop him a line at

Homepage: Phil Kline / Unsilent Night
Homepage: Phil Kline / Unsilent Night at Cantaloupe Music

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