Unsilent Night to take place on December 8, 2011

November 19, 2011


On Thursday, December 8, 2011, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas will offer Phil Kline's UNSILENT NIGHT, a fun, completely free, and unusual holiday tradition that brings together friends, family, and community to celebrate the holidays through music and shared creation. Phil Kline's UNSILENT NIGHT has been taking place in cities around the world since 1992, and is now in its fifth year in New Haven. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate!

WHAT: Unsilent Night

WHERE & WHEN: Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yale Bookstore, 77 Broadway, New Haven

Gather at 5:30pm, procession begins at 6:00pm

Cookies & hot chocolate with composer Phil Kline to follow

Event information

Taking a spin on the age-old tradition of holiday caroling, participants process through the streets carrying boom boxes (and other music-playing devices) that each play different tracks from Phil Kline's sound composition Unsilent Night. The air is filled with the sounds of bells, chimes, and otherworldly voices, and the crowd becomes a parade of atmospheric sounds. The aim is simple: make noise and create fun for everyone involved.

Participants are invited to gather at the Yale Bookstore, located at 77 Broadway in New Haven, beginning at 5:30pm on December 8. Participants may bring their own boom boxes or may borrow one from the Festival on the evening of the event. The procession itself will begin at 6pm, and will conclude forty-five minutes later at the Yale Bookstore. Following the procession, there will be a reception with hot chocolate, cookies, and an opportunity to meet composer Phil Kline.

As Kline explains, "UNSILENT NIGHT is an outdoor, ambient music piece for an infinite number of boom boxes. It's like a Christmas caroling party except that we don't sing, but rather carry the music, each of us playing a separate track that is a 'voice' in the piece. In effect, we become a city-block-long sound system! I think it succeeds so well because the modest ambition, to have a party, becomes universal so easily at this time of year. It's dark and cold and everyone is stressed out. And here's this free, low-key thing that makes the air vibrate in a way that's wonderful, relaxing and invigorating all at once. It's been a pleasure to watch it start in New Haven the last few years."

Mary Lou Aleskie, Executive Director of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, agrees: "The Festival is proud to once again host Phil Kline's UNSILENT NIGHT in New Haven. Just like our summer Festival, it brings together community and innovative artistic experiences in a festive environment. Phil had a brilliant idea with Unsilent Night and it is an idea has spread all around the world, so we're very excited that we've reached our fifth year with it here. I hope that everyone will come out and join us for the party."


Since its founding in 1996, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas has presented more than 15,000 artists and thinkers in 5,000 events, celebrations, explorations, forums, exhibitions, debates, presentations and more at its annual Festival in June. The Festival plays host to more than 100,000 people each year, and takes place in more than two dozen venues in and around New Haven, Connecticut, including theaters, concert halls, courtyards and the streets. More than 75 countries have been represented since the Festival's inception. In addition to its annual event, the Festival presents a number of community events and education efforts throughout the year, including Phil Kline's Unsilent Night during the holidays, and the Visionary Leadership Award in the autumn.

The 2012 Festival will take place from June 16 to 30, 2012.


UNSILENT NIGHT began in winter of 1992, when composer Phil Kline had an idea for a public artwork in the form of a holiday caroling party. He composed a multi-track electronic piece that was 45 minutes long (the length of one side of a cassette tape), invited a few dozen friends who gathered in New York City's 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 before: an evanescence filling the air, reverberating off the buildings and city streets as the crowd walked a pre-determined route.

The piece was so popular that it became an annual tradition, and then an international phenomenon, spreading across the USA and to other countries worldwide. Since 1992, it has been presented in over 50 cities and four continents, drawing crowds of up to 1,500 participants in cities like New York and San Francisco.

Unsilent Night has been in New Haven, Connecticut since 2006.