Breckenridge presents a new take on a holiday tradition this year with Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night,” a performance piece in which participants walk the streets of town playing tracks on boom boxes and other sound devices. The four tracks, played simultaneously, combine to create a luminous soundscape of chiming bells and atmospheric sounds.
First performed in 1992 in New York City, where it is now an annual tradition, the mobile sound sculpture has become a cult classic around the world, traveling to more than 100 cities on four continents. This year, Breckenridge joins the fun on December 2 with the promenade immediately following the Lighting of Breckenridge.
“‘Unsilent Night’ is a fun and accessible piece of contemporary electronic music, and you don’t need any musical training to participate in it,” said Tamara Nuzzaci Park, executive director of the Breckenridge Music Festival, which co-presents the event with Breckenridge Creative Arts (BCA) and support from the Breckenridge Tourism Office.
“The piece brings people together and inspires curiosity, completely transforming an environment,” she said. “It’s one of the more inventive ways that art, and music in particular, can have an impact on people’s lives, even if it’s just 45 minutes walking down the street.”
Those wishing to participate should download one of Kline’s four tracks from the URL at the bottom of this page, load it onto a sound rig, and gather in Blue River Plaza at 4:30 p.m. December 2 for instructions. There will be a limited number of sound devices available on a first come, first served basis starting at 3 p.m., and cassettes and CD’s will also be available at Old Masonic Hall December 1-2.
Shadowtrash Tape Group will offer public workshops to help participants construct sound rigs on December 1 and 2.
Leading up to the event, composer Phil Kline will teach workshops on electronic music at Summit High School and local middle schools. Kline will also give a talk at the Breckenridge Arts District on December 1.
“We wanted to go to the community with a participatory art piece, to engage people in community-building and challenge them to take on something somewhat difficult, but ultimately fun,” said Nicole Dial-Kay, BCA’s new director of exhibitions and special projects. “It kind of takes the idea of ‘Silent Night’ and turns it on its head to become a raucous music composition.”
“While nondenominational, Phil Kline’s ‘Unsilent Night’ gives you that uplifting holiday feeling, and is a way to celebrate with friends and family through art,” Park added. “I think it could really catch on. The month of December is such a special time—it’s the quintessential holiday spirit that’s here in winter. It seems like a perfect fit.”
Breckenridge Music Festival // breckenridgemusicfestival.com
Event details // breckenridgemusicfestival.com/event/unsilent-night
Unsilent Night downloads // unsilentnight.com/participate.html
Shadowtrash Tape Group // shadowtrashtapegroup.com
Photos: Tom Jarmusch and Taylor Davidson, courtesy of Phil Kline