If you love Christmas, but would enjoy a little twist on tradition, Unsilent Night is for you.

Unsilent Night is a modern version of Christmas caroling in which the audience becomes the performer. The free event, open to everyone in the community, takes place Friday, Dec. 4. It starts at 7:30 p.m. at Atomic Coffee in downtown Fargo. Participants receive complimentary coffee, tea and cocoa and then proceed to Moorhead Center Mall, where Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams will greet people and provide another batch of warm beverages. An MSUM van will shuttle participants back to their cars (on Broadway) after the event, which should conclude around 8:30 p.m.

Organized by MSUM music faculty member Dr. Kenyon Williams, the event centers around an electronic composition played by the audience. “Unsilent Night is an avant-garde postmodern Christmas caroling experience,” says Williams. “A friend of mine started leading it in Knoxville, Tenn., four years ago with only eight students. Last year, it attracted more than 100 participants. My hope is for this event to blossom as we celebrate the arts, even in the winter, in the FM region.”

Participants use mp3 players (ideally with portable Blutooth speakers), portable CD players, and smart phones. The composition is performed when participants press ‘play’ on one of four random audio tracks, each of which is about 45 minutes long, says Williams. The overlapping textures of these randomized tracks build a “sonic landscape.”

“There is even an Apple and Android app for performances of the piece that randomly selects from the four tracks for the performance,” says Williams.
Created 30 years ago by New Yorker Phil Kline, the sound “immerses the listener in a state of suspended wonderment,” and is “gorgeously ambient,” according to the New York Times. Unsilent Night has taken place every year in New York City for almost 30 years and is now an annual holiday “happening” in over 30 cities around the world. About his inspiration in starting Unsilent Night, Kline says: “It was a combination of my love for experimental electronic music and memories of Christmas caroling as a kid in Ohio.”

For more information, email Williams at willdrum@mnstate.edu or call him at (218) 477-4610. You may also visit the event’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/UnsilentNightFM.