Category Archives: Beyond Levitt

Yesterday, more than 750 cities (and 120 countries!) filled the air with free, live music, in celebration of Make Music Day. This one-of-a-kind free annual festival is open to all people—regardless of their age, background or musical ability. As passionate supporters of free outdoor concerts across the country, many of which are happening now, we’re sharing a few of our favorite pics from yesterday’s global music-making event.

The festival can be traced back to 1982, when it was launched in France as the Fête de la Musique. Fun fact: In French, “Fête de la Musique” means both “festival of music” and “make music.” To date, almost 8 percent of France’s population (approximately 5 million people) have reportedly played an instrument or sang in public as part of Fête de la Musique.

Now an international phenomenon, amateur and professional musicians across the globe spend the first day of the annual summer solstice making free, live music with and for their communities.

Didn’t get a chance to celebrate yesterday? You’re in luck—making music is free and joyous activity we can enjoy all year ‘round!

  • West African Percussion group Umoja celebrating MakeMusicDay in Rochester, NY. Image courtesy of @makemusicroc.

Summer has long been synonymous with outdoor concerts across the country. A simple search for “free outdoor concerts” yields hundreds of thousands of results coast to coast. Each year brings an increasing number of opportunities to experience free, live music in outdoor settings—from single concerts centered around a specific celebration like the annual Memorial Day Concert on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; to coordinated events like Make Music Day, when dozens of U.S. cities celebrate the summer solstice through free music performances; to weekly concert series like Summerstage in parks throughout New York City and free Levitt concerts in towns and cities across America.

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Do you get together with your neighbors on a regular basis? If the answer is no, you’re not alone—according to a 2015 study, only 20 percent of Americans regularly spend time with their neighbors, and a third of the country’s population has never interacted with neighbors. At Levitt, we always encourage people to get to know one another, whether that’s through enjoying free concerts together or through other kinds of community-building activities.

That’s why we love the idea behind Neighborday, a holiday devised seven years ago by media company GOOD to inspire Americans to reach out to folks living next door and plan a communal activity. A block party is one idea, but GOOD offers several other creative ways to forge friendships and build community pride within our neighborhoods. Here are four activities that you and your neighbors can put together just in time for Neighborday on April 29!

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Poetic musicians

Pictured above (left to right): Maya Angelou, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Alicia Keys and Jimmy Webb.

With rhythm—and frequently, rhyme—at the core of both poetry and music, it comes as no surprise that the worlds of these two prominent forms of self-expression have frequently overlapped.

In honor of National Poetry Month, today we’re celebrating five of the many talented artists who’ve been honored for their achievements in both fields! Continue reading

  • Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, Lancaster, Calif. Photo: rickz on Flickr
As our days are gradually filling up with more sunshine, people are spending time outside to enjoy beautiful greenery after the cold season. Some cities are seeing more visitors come through as blooming wildflowers turn their local areas into flower tourism destinations.

Similar to “leaf peeping,” or traveling to view colorful fall foliage, flower tourism attracts people to flower festivals and parks made vibrant during the springtime. Plus, many of these attractions are free and open to the public—even more incentive to enjoy the great outdoors. Check out some places transformed by spring showers and warm weather in our slideshow above. Hopefully you feel inspired to enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors and visit a park near you!

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With the onset of spring on the horizon, fresh starts and new beginnings are on the mind. Today we’re turning our attention to abandoned railroad tracks around the globe that have been given new life as the cornerstones of urban parks.

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Pictured above (from left to right, top to bottom): Walter “Junie” Morrison, Clyde Stubblefield, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thorton, Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne’s memorial plaque and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

This past week we’ve lost two musical greats, each of whom left a lasting impact on music history, despite the fact that they spent much of their careers outside of the spotlight—Walter “Junie” Morrison (songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, one-man studio band and funk master) and Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown’s ‘Funky Drummer’).

In honor of African American History month, today we’re celebrating the contributions of these musical masters, as well as a few of the many unsung African American talents who’ve helped pave the way for musicians of all backgrounds, changing the landscape of American music in the process. Continue reading


Here at Levitt, we’re reminded year after year that free, high-quality arts programming gives communities so much more than free entertainment. It empowers people of all backgrounds to come together and strengthen the social and economic fabric of their communities.

The collaborative work of creative placemaking pioneers—like the visionary folks at the National Endowment for the Arts—show us all just how catalytic a role the arts can play in strengthening communities. Continue reading

2017 Oscars Noms Banner

Fresh from the excitement of this month’s Golden Globes ceremony, film critics and movie lovers watched the 89th Academy Award nominations announcement this morning with plenty of predictions. As some had anticipated, musical frontrunner La La Land made Oscar history with its record 14 nominations—tied with Titanic (1995) and All About Eve (1950).

Today we had our eyes (and ears) peeled to the Oscars’ musical categories, Best Original Song and Best Original Score. Listen to this year’s nominees below! Continue reading


Among the predictions for the 2017 Coachella festival lineup were a variety of well-known artists from popular music genres, from R&B royalty (Beyoncé) to rock innovators (Radiohead). Like every year, the lineup reveal was not without some surprises. Perhaps most unexpected was the addition of Hans Zimmer, the German-born composer who has scored over 150 movies since the 1980s. And yet a closer look at Zimmer’s career reveals how his ability to push musical boundaries makes him a fantastic choice for one of the most popular music festivals in the world. Continue reading