The Colorado Symphony partnered with Denver Botanic Gardens for a socially distanced alphorn duet of “Amazing Grace” featuring Colorado Symphony Principal Horn Michael Thornton and Matthew Eckenhoff in commemoration of Make Music Day on June 21. The performance took place in the the Gardens’ picturesque Mordecai Children’s Garden, that remains closed to the public. The main gardens recently reopened after an extended closure as Colorado dealt with restrictions following the outbreak of COVID-19.
The alphorn is a brass instrument, consisting of a straight several-meter-long wooden natural horn of conical bore. It is used most commonly used by mountain dwellers in the Swiss Alps, Austrian Alps, Bavarian Alps in Germany, and French Alps. Similar wooden horns were used for communication in most mountainous regions of Europe, from the Alps to the Carpathians. Today, alphorns are used as musical instruments.
The instrument’s length makes it ideal for social distanced playing, allowing the musicians to stand at least six feet apart while allowing the horns to rest safely next to each other.
“As we carefully and responsibly begin to reopen major SCFD organizations, it was such fun to use ‘socially distanced’ instruments (alphorns are about 14 feet long!) in the idyllic Denver Botanic Gardens,” said Thornton. “Playing pastoral music in this beautiful setting was a joy and privilege.”
“During this time of COVID-19 quarantine and temporary Denver Botanic Gardens closure (we recently reopened!), we wanted to find creative and collaborative ways to activate the empty Gardens,” said Erin Bird, Communications Manager for the Denver Botanic Gardens. “We are thrilled Colorado Symphony was interested in brining two musicians to Mordecai Children’s Garden to perform the powerful and hopeful ‘Amazing Grace’. Not only does this video performance provide fun content for our social media audiences, but it also celebrates the supportive nature of SCFD organizations.”
Make Music Day was dreamed up in 1982 by France’s Ministry of Culture as an idea for a new kind of musical holiday. They imagined a day where free, live music would be everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops, allowing anyone and everyone to participate. The event would take place on the summer solstice, June 21, and would be called Fête De La Musique, meaning “festival of music” and “make music”. Three decades later, the holiday has spread throughout the world and is now celebrated in more than 120 countries.