Make Music St. Louis, a tenant of the Arts and Education Council’s Centene Center for the Arts, is bringing our community together for a day of FREE music performances  for Make Music Day 2017. First held on the summer solstice of 1982 in France, Make Music Day is an international festival in which anyone and everyone is invited to perform or host performances at locations throughout the city. 

On June 21, over 95 individuals and groups will perform across St. Louis, from the National Blues Museum downtown to University City Public Library in the Loop. Some of the festival’s highlights include a performance by Joe Metzka and the Gateway Festival Orchestra at Straubs in the Central West End, free piano lessons from Piano Distributors of Chesterfield and a live broadcast from 96.3 in the Loop beginning at 4pm. Audiences are also invited to play pianos provided by Jackson Pianos around the city and take a selfie to be entered in a drawing for prizes.

Check out this brief Q&A with Make Music St. Louis founders Nika Leoni and Kathy Favazza for the inside scoop on this year’s festival.

Can you tell me about Make Music Day?

Nika Leoni: Make Music Day is a worldwide holiday. It started in Paris, France in 1982 when government officials decided to make it a citywide holiday. They announced that all musicians could come out and play wherever they want – they blocked the streets, they blocked the traffic, they blocked the space for performers – and people loved it so much that they started doing it annually. The event grew and Make Music Day started spreading all over Europe. Nine years ago it came to New York City. Our friends at Make Music New York started a U.S.-based Make Music Day Alliance and started recruiting cities around the United States to participate. Today, 35 cities in the U.S. participate along with over 700 cities worldwide.

Kathy Favazza: And believe it or not, St. Louis didn’t have it until last year.

How did Make Music Day St. Louis get its start?

NL: I moved [to St. Louis] two and a half years ago from New York City and I was part of Make Music New York.  I knew nothing about St. Louis before [I moved here], and it is such a cultural, vibrant city. I asked Kathy if she had heard of Make Music and I said “We have to do it here!” St. Louis has so many festivals, but you have not had Make Music Day.  We started seriously working on establishing the event [here] back in February 2016.

KF:  Out of that [one event] was born Make Music St. Louis, because we had this amazing day with over 50 performers and 17 performances with just over a couple months of operation. That response was amazing! We started asking “What else can we do?” So Make Music St. Louis developed as an umbrella organization for Make Music Day. The idea now is too to bring incredible performances from all genres within the theme of Make Music, which is all encompassing – beginners, professionals and everything in between and involve all genres of music.

NL: And to specify on Make Music Day itself, it’s a music festival; it’s a day of celebrating music. It’s open to the public, it’s free to the participants and the audiences, and it’s all-inclusive. Anyone can participate, all they have to do is register with us, and we help them match their performances with venues that also register with us. In addition, anybody can organize performances wherever they like – in their back yards, on sidewalks, in their living room, in parks.

KF: So then we thought that we should bring and educational opportunities for younger performers throughout the year. In fact, we’ve already had Metropolitan Opera Artists from New York come to perform in St. Louis. We also had one of the performers conduct a master class for young opera singers in our community. We really want to enrich the community education wise and musically and culturally.

How do musicians register for the event?

NL: Obviously, the biggest challenge for us is getting the word out. The biggest challenge this year was finding the means and the time to properly advertise the event. So people who find out about it, all they have to do is go to our website and click on the register button, which will take them to a separate page where they create an account. They create a full profile of their genre, their technical capabilities, whether or not they need amplification or electricity or whatever technical requirements they may have. There are time limits for the day when they can perform, and that data is put in a system and gets matched with the venues that register separately, which is our separate campaign. Through that system, they get connected to the venue. If the venue approves them, they find a common time together, and that’s how they perform as a set.

For more information on Make Music St. Louis, visit

For a complete schedule of performances, download the Make Music Day app