Trevor Harvey (ethnomusicology), Jennifer Iverson (music theory), and Nathan Platte (musicology) and their families collaborated to host the first annual Front Porch Music Festival on Saturday June 20 2015. The festival encouraged residents of the Longfellow neighborhood in Iowa City to play music together on their front porches. An open jam (pictured above) ran concurrently through the length of the festival. “All are welcome to play, whether you consider yourself a ‘real musician’ or not,” said co-organizer Iverson. “We expect to see everyone from 2-year-olds with homemade percussion instruments to professional cellists.” Indeed, the diverse line-up of performers included young piano students, youth folk trio the Skipperlings, various small ensembles including banjo, guitar, dulcimer, cello, piano, flute, trombone, and voice, wind quintet LIROS, the inter-generational choir Family Folk Machine, and a rock band.
The organizers were inspired by Platte’s previous experience with a similar festival, the Water Hill Festival, in Ann Arbor, MI and Make Music Day on June 21, a world-wide celebration of music-making. As Harvey points out, “Making music together can and should be an important aspect of sharing a neighborhood, a community, a culture.” Though Harvey, Iverson, and Platte now practice ‘academic’ music professionally—-teaching about historical, structural, and cultural aspects—-they all trained as performers for a large portion of their lives. “It was fun to get back to performing and playing,” Platte said. Platte and other performers are featured in a local news video segment from KCRG Channel 9. The organizers plan to make the festival an annual celebration.