Pittonkatonk is a multifaceted project that engenders positive civic actions through socially engaged and sustainable musical events supported by vested community collaborators. Founded in 2014, Pittonkatonk began as a community supported, outdoor, family-friendly festival of street and brass music held on May Day weekend at the Vietnam Veterans Pavilion in Schenley Park. Pittonkatonk seeks to transcend traditional political economies of music by erasing boundaries of musician/audience and restoring music’s role as social affordance rather than a commodity to be produced and exchanged. We do not charge admission for this event, nor do we sell anything or accept any corporate sponsorships. In 2014 we had 750 participants and in 2015 we saw that number grow to 2500.
In 2015, we expanded Pittonkatonk’s scope by launching an educational program and partnering with Pittsburgh Milliones UPrep band. Pittonkatonk connected local teen musicians with the internationally renowned brass band What Cheer? Brigade (WC?B). In the first workshop, members of WC?B described their cooperative design, how they partner with different types of musical communities, and how the band works to find its purpose. In the following two meetings, WC?B and the UPrep selected music to share and perform. The workshops culminated in a collaborative performance in front of hundreds of people on May 2 at the Veterans Pavilion. The positive response from students, parents, and community partners was overwhelming. The value propositions of the program are threefold: (1) Personal Growth: development of self, confidence, and empowerment, (2) Group Skills: team building and peer-based learning, and (3) Community Engagement: role of music in social engagement, and network creation. Pittonkatonk challenges and empowers youth to independently reflect on their everyday lives and identify aspects that they might like to reinforce or change. We connect music performance to real everyday issues, what matters to them, and how to express that when performing. Students who work with us will carry on a longstanding tradition of socially conscious musicians whose music has supported, entertained and spoke for communities throughout history. Specifically, participants will discuss and gain insights into their own life experiences, learn from each other, and channel their insights into musical outlets.
For more information about Pittonkatonk, please visit: http://pittonkatonk.com/