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Watch a Musician Chat With Birds at 2016 Make Music New York Festival

By Eddie Small | June 7, 2016 9:55am
 Michael Pestel will perform at Wave Hill on June 21 as part of the 2016 Make Music New York festival.
Michael Pestel will perform at Wave Hill on June 21 as part of the 2016 Make Music New York festival.
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Brandy Auld

THE BRONX — A musician will use an instrument of his own invention to try striking up a conversation with birds at this year's Make Music New York festival.

Multi-instrumentalist Michael Pestel will take part in 2016's free celebration of music in The Bronx by chatting with bird species that are native to the city in Wave Hill on June 21 at 9:30 a.m.

Pestel aims to attract the birds using his "Birdmachine," an instrument he invented that he described as a large bass recorder with a square design.

"I’ve attached a lot of different bird-sounding devices onto it," he said, "so I have a sound for any kind of bird."

The devices range from reed instruments to game calls, but Pestel said he is less interested in mimicking the birds than in creating a "rhythmic interplay" with them, something that he cautioned was more difficult to do outdoors than in an aviary.

"When you’re in a natural setting outdoors, especially in a more urbanized setting where there are many other sounds around, it’s not necessarily so easy to get their attention," he said.

The 10th Make Music New York festival will take place throughout the day on June 21. Other Bronx events include an Afro-Cuban rumba performance by the band Manny's Boogaloo Crew at the Crotona Park Bandshell at 1 p.m. and a funk/rock performance by the band Fort Indy at Williamsbridge Oval Park at 6 p.m.

A small mobile recording studio will also be set up at the Andrew Freedman Home from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. where New Yorkers can stop by and produce music at their leisure.

Overall, Make Music New York will consist of more than 1,000 free concerts across the five boroughs from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. and occur alongside other celebrations in 38 cities across the United States and in 700 cities across 120 countries.

Other events in New York include free guitar lessons at the Times Square pedestrian plazas from 1 to 5 p.m. by 50 teachers and The Naked Cowboy, and a show by Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase in Madison Square Park at 3:30 p.m.

Pestel said it is difficult to know what kind of effect his performance has on the birds he communicates with and that they may view him as a creature trying to invade their territory. But his overall goal is just to strike up an interspecies conversation.

"That’s the ideal, to get some kind of a conversation going that then also is interesting musically," he said.