Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

December 20, 2013

Event is one part living sculpture, one part caroling

TRAVERSE CITY — It’s time for anybody who’s squirreled away an old BoomBox, waiting for just the right time to break it out and impress some friends, to bring forth that 1980s music maker.

Tonight it’s time for “Unsilent Night.”

It’s hard for Left Foot Charley winery owner/operator Bryan Ulbrich to describe the annual event that began as a holiday gift to the community. All he knows is that it takes a lot of BoomBoxes and a bunch of holiday spirit.

That’s because “Unsilent Night” is one part living sculpture and one part caroling.

“It’s kind of this moving symphony of sound,” he said. “This is our gift to Traverse City for the holidays.”

This is the fourth year that the winery has purchased the rights to play Phil Kline’s moving musical composition. Kline wrote and recorded the musical arrangement in four separate parts that are meant to be played together while participants take a 45 minute hike.

The variety of BoomBoxes, smartphones and portable music players coalesce while playing the four tracks simultaneously. The music bounces off walls, buildings and trees during the walk to make every performance different.

“It’s digital caroling, I guess,” Ulbrich said. “It’s for all ages, it’s just a nice short walk.”

The music is performed annually in several large cities. But Traverse City might be the only smaller one, Ulbrich said.

And for the years since it’s local inception, Ulbrich has seen attendance vary with the weather.

“It’s a struggle every year to get enough,” he said. “Last year, we had eight people, but we went out in the woods for the walk.”

The music sounds better when there are plenty of people and devices sharing in the musical load, he said.

Typically, the winery staff lead participants on a leisurely walk through the campus of the Grand Traverse Commons. All you need to join in the holiday fun is some sort of device that plays music and a copy of your part. Information about that part comes when people register with the winery to participate.

After the walk, there will be hot cider, cookies and vintage Christmas music playing at the winery’s tasting room.

Staging for the walking musical sculpture begins at 6 p.m. and the walk begins at 6:30 p.m. And anybody who has an old BoomBox to donate will be rewarded by a $10 donation sent from the winery to Boots for Kids. If you want more information or to reserve a spot, call 995-0500.

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