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Make Music Day: Performances, activities and one very big balloon

Performers like these will play throughout the city for Make Music Milwaukee on June 21.
Performers like these will play throughout the city for Make Music Milwaukee on June 21.

Did you know this Friday is Make Music Day? This global event started in 1982, but Milwaukee took a little longer to get on board and for the past eight years has organized a day of activities that encourage people to get out there, enjoy some music and maybe make a little of their own.

I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t get involved with worldwide efforts to increase participation in the arts unless it involves a 112-foot hot-air balloon shaped like a newborn that was dreamed up by a Polish culture magazine.”

Well, friend, I’ve got just the thing for you.

Friday evening at Veterans Park, a gargantuan floating art installation called “Baby You” and presented by Przekrój — a quarterly publication based in Krakow — will take flight near Milwaukee’s lakefront. According to the folks who created it, the 112-foot-long hot-air balloon in the form of a sleeping infant represents:

… the potential in all of us that’s waiting to be awakened, unlimited and endless as the sky. It is a reminder of the togetherness of people and the precious nature of life — joyful, full of wonder, and present in the here and now. “Baby You” aims to impart that each and every one of us is already enough, that we were born this way.

Make Music Day; Facebook

There is a musical component, of course, that falls in nicely with the day’s festivities. Composer Michael Schachter created a new a cappella choral work that will be performed by literally anyone who shows up and wants to lend their voice to the crowd. Organizers encourage everyone to show up at 6 p.m. for a brief tutorial with conductor Lee Stovall, with the performance and balloon launch starting at 7 p.m.

"We conceived of 'Baby You' as the perfect metaphor to embody the rebirth of Przekrój and the role we hope it will play in the world today — to remind us that while politics and culture are ever-changing, the importance of nourishing mind, body and soul remains constant," said Przekrój editor-at-large Maria Kozak, whose family emigrated to the United States from Poland in 1983 at the height of martial law and who grew up navigating both cultures.

Przekrój was born out of dire necessity to give hope to a public starved of art, literature and beauty. But we find it’s just as necessary now — when what ails us is not a lack of distraction, but the extreme opposite: Distraction is a constant state of being.”

If you can be distracted while a 112-foot baby is floating right in front of you, I don’t know what to tell you. So put your focus to the test and make some music this Friday at Veterans Park or any of the other Make Music Milwaukee events happening around the area. There are performances, opportunities to participate and activities geared toward the littlest musicians, including a chance to actually pick up real instruments and give them a try.

To see everything going on in Milwaukee and the surrounding communities, visit the Make Music Day website.