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Holiday Cult Classic “Unsilent Night” Returns to SF

Light up the city with music, separately but together on December 19th
By - posted 12/7/2020 No Comment

Phil Kline’s outdoor holiday classic Unsilent Night — a participatory electronic soundscape celebrated worldwide every December —will take place responsibly in 20 cities throughout December, including San Francisco and for the first time ever, Berkeley too.

Kline’s ethereal soundscape can be played by anyone of any age on boomboxes or amplified phones carried through city streets. Each participant plays one of 4 composed tracks at the same time, and the layered music creates a magical and joyous noise on foot.

Usually held as a massive parade through the streets, this year’s event will be a socially-distant affair, where households take to the streets — their own streets, in their own neighborhood. Everyone will press play at the same time, creating the possibility that anyone anywhere in the city might have a chance encounter with Unsilent Night.

Unsilent Night
December 19, 2020
San Francisco & Berkeley
Schedule updated daily at unsilentnight.com/schedule
(In this unpredictable year, details may have to be confirmed last-minute,
so keep checking)
FREE as always

Unsilent Night is ideal as socially distanced outdoor public sound art and will follow each city’s specific COVID-19 safety regulations.

Statement from composer Phil Kline:
“Unsilent Night was born and raised in New York City. Since 1992, I’ve led it there every year and watched the crowd grow from a handful of friends to hundreds of people. While I have thought and thought about how we could safely do the Big One in the city this year, I now believe we shouldn’t try. It’s just too many people!

But let’s do this: we can still take to the streets to celebrate—separately but together. Gather your household for your own Unsilent Night anywhere in the city. Everyone doing their own thing, lighting up the city with music. It’s easy to do—the tracks can be downloaded through our website and played on smartphones with bluetooth speakers, or anything that will play an mp3, and you can just do your own walk, in your own neighborhood.

Unsilent Night is, above all, a social event, a party, an occasion for friends and communities to get together and share a winter walk while making joyful noise. We want to keep this spirit alive this year while keeping everyone safe. Needless to say, WEAR MASKS, be mindful of distance, and keep it small and intimate.”

History of Unsilent Night:
Unsilent Night was born in winter 1992, when Phil Kline had an idea for a public artwork in the form of a holiday caroling party. He composed a four-track electronic piece that was 45 minutes long (the length of one side of a cassette tape), invited some friends who gathered in Greenwich Village, gave each person a boombox with one of four tapes in it, and instructed everyone to hit PLAY at the same time. What followed was a sound unlike anything they had ever heard: an evanescence filled the air, reverberating off buildings and streets as the crowd walked a pre-determined route, creating a mobile sound sculpture different from every listener’s perspective. “In effect, we became a city-block-long stereo system,” says Phil. The piece was so popular that it became an annual tradition, and then an international phenomenon and has since spread to nearly 150 cities across five continents.