PORTLAND, Maine — A bucket brigade of people pounding plastic pails made a glorious racket in Bell Buoy Park, just off the Maine State Pier, on Tuesday morning.

At lunchtime, a solo violinist with a pink bloom in her breeze-ruffled hair wrung joy and pathos from her wooden instrument, making busy lunch goers stop and take note.

A short while later, a teacher led his impromptu ukulele class in a spirited rendition of the Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden” in the shade of bending birches in Post Office Park.

Clockwise from left: Ukulele teacher Chris Beaven strums with students during an impromptu lesson in Portland’s Post Office Park on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, during this year’s Make Music Portland; Beaven shares a chord with students; Asha Tamirisa (from left) John Colton, Monica Helms and Kristen Cyr hold hands, completing an electrical circuit, triggering a synthesizer. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

These scenes of harmonic convergence, melody and meter, were all part of the 10th annual Make Music Portland event. The festival featured more than 40 free concerts and hands-on workshops at parks and venues across the city.

“We started this because we thought Portland had a strong music community and we wanted to give people the opportunity to showcase their craft,” said event co-founder Catherine Tanous.

Make Music Portland is affiliated with the French Fete de la Musique sound festival. Portland was the ninth American city to start hosting a sister “make music” event. Now there are more than 90 cities in the U.S. taking part and many more around the globe, as well.

A young girl plays the harmonica during a music festival.
Keyanna Williams, 2, tries out a harmonica in Portland on Tuesday, June 22, 2022 during the annual Make Music Portland event. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Always held on the summer solstice, the not-for-profit event is meant to strengthen social and cultural ties between global citizens while supporting amateur and professional musicians alike.

“Anyone can play,” Tanous said. “Musicians just have to sign up and we’ll assign them time slots.”

Like event organizers, all musicians donated their time.

Clockwise from left: Jane Bonnevie-Rothrock (from left) plays harmonica with friend Meghan Perry and instructor Aaron Seglin in Portland on Tuesday, June 22, 2022, during the annual Make Music Portland event; Percussionist Miguel Sanchez (from left) shows Baxter Nolt, 8, and Audrey Nolt, 12, how to play a pattern on a bucket drum; Guitarist Carand Burnet plays while Elif Demircan Mogensen takes a photo. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Tanous said this year’s installment of Make Music Portland was a success, adding she’s a little surprised it’s still going after a decade.

“I don’t think we saw ourselves getting all the way to 10 years,” she said.

Still, Tanous and co-founder Max Mogensen plan on sticking around and organizing another event next year.

A man plays the fiddle during a music festival.
Owen Kennedy plays his fiddle in the gazebo at Portland’s Fort Allen Park on Tuesday, June 22, 2022, during the annual Make Music Portland event. The annual event features free concerts and music workshops across the city. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

“We sure hope so,” Tanous said, as the bucket drums surged, drowning her out and into a silent smile.

For more information about Make Music Portland, visit its website.

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Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.