Better Than Carolling: Unsilent Night
Unsilent Night is a roving holiday concert performed by a group of volunteers holding boomboxes, each blasting a different part of the piece. What a wonderful idea! Composer Phil Kline has performed Unsilent Night in Manhattan every year since 1992, and the third annual San Francisco performance will take place on Wednesday, December 21, 2005, at 6:45 PM, starting in Dolores Park. Bring your own boombox and Kline will hand you a tape or cd with one part of the music on it. Of course, I'm such a music nerd that my first thought was, "How do they keep all the parts in sync?" But I guess the point is that they're not.
A moving piece of ambient public art, Unsilent Night can be compared to a holiday caroling party, except that participants don't sing. Instead, each carries a boombox playing a separate cassette, CD, or MP3 that becomes part of the piece. In effect, Kline and his co-performers become single elements in a huge, mobile sound system.
Performed within the confines of the city streets, Unsilent Night reverberates off the cars and buildings, resulting in a magnificent, drifting cloud of shimmering, echoing sound. The 43-minute piece includes chiming bells, choral voices, and various electronic effects. (Kline cites Brian Eno and Charles Ives among his influences.)