For this year’s Make Music Winter, Jim Holt is back with another version of his subway piece Thru-Line, which New Yorker critic Alex Ross calls “deeply charming.” If you play violin, viola, accordion, or any other portable instrument, Make Music New York (MMNY) is still accepting participants: click here to join!
MMNY spoke with Jim about the project:
What will G-train riders experience on 21 December 2012?
If you are riding in the front car of any G-train (from any station) between 2-3pm, you will experience what might feel like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Imagine riding the train and suddenly a musician begins playing Bach; it’s not a big deal. But what if that musician stepped OFF the train at the next stop and a different musician stepped ON and began playing the same piece? And then this happens over and over again at every single station – one musician leaves, one arrives, always playing the same unforgettable music.
Why the G line?
One of the reasons I chose the F-line last year is because it went through Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. We wanted to switch up the subway line this year but also wanted to keep Queens and Brooklyn in the mix. The G-line is one of the few lines that operates in both Queens and Brooklyn.
How did you come up with the idea?
This is actually a variation of a Make Music Winter project from last year, which I did with The Knights and MATA. In 2011 we had musicians performing this same Bach piece on nearly all of the Brooklyn-bound F-train stations. The idea was that the musicians would stay in place and the public would discover them at each station. This year we are flipping it – we will come to the public rather than the other way around.
What will it be like from the musicians’ perspective?
The musicians will need to be mobile in a way that they probably never have been before. Over the course of an hour, they’ll only travel the distance of five stations. They will be stepping on the train, playing Bach until the next station, then stepping off the train and waiting for the next one.
What did the musicians last year think?
All of them had a great time! A few of them shared some great stories – one musician commented on how the train conductors had “the best seat” and that they had never seen them so happy. Another musician ended up striking up a conversation with the father of a Los Angeles Laker! One of my favorites though was someone who told one of our musicians at the end of the hour, “Over already? I’ve heard one of you every stop from way up in Queens!”