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Out & About: Make happy holiday noise in Claremont, no singing required

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2022 10:19:32 PM
Modified: 12/5/2022 12:56:33 PM

Those looking for the human connection of caroling — but who do not want to sing — should consider heading to Claremont late Sunday afternoon.

There, they will be joined by other people for “Unsilent Night,” where people gather and use electronic devices to play a composition created 30 years ago by composer and sound artist Phil Kline.

Aaron Almanza is bringing the event to Claremont for the first time. Lamanza moved to the city earlier this year after spending nearly two decades in San Francisco where he participated in — then organized — that city’s event.

“It’s kind of hard to explain until you actually do it,” Almanza said. “It’s like caroling except you don’t have to remember any words because it’s all audio.”

Participants download one of four parts of the composition from and put it on a device that is ideally connected to a speaker. Then, they gather outside and press play at the same time.

“At the count of three we press play. They’re not always in sync and that’s kind of the point,” Almanza said. “The little bit of chaos is part of the sound.”

For around 45 minutes, the group will walk while the electronic music, which includes a mix of bells, chimes and echos, plays. Almanza described the sound as “very ethereal.”

“You can definitely just use your phone if that’s all you have,” Almaza said, stressing that devices and equipment are not a barrier to participation. “If you can get a larger speaker, a boombox or a wireless speaker for your phone that makes it a little better, but it’s definitely not a requirement.”

The Claremont event will begin at the north end of Santagate Bridge, near the Claremont Visitors Center at 14 North St. Lamanza has asked people to gather at 4:15 p.m. near the statue before the event officially begins at 4:30 p.m. He has mapped out a circular route that will go downtown using sidewalks and return to the bridge.

“It for me has always been a celebration of community,” Almanza said. He described “Unsilent Night” as “nonpolitical (and) nonreligious.” It’s simply a way to celebrate winter as a group.

“You don’t have to worry about ‘how does my voice sound?’” Almanza said.

He recalled the first time he stumbled across a gathering for “Unsilent Night” in San Francisco. He was invited to join in and has been attending ever since.

“It was always a way to meet new people,” Almanza, 43, said. “For me this year, I’m the new person living in the place where I’ve only known a few people.”

Almanza grew up in California and after graduating from college, got hired as an intern at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park in Cornish before becoming a park ranger.

After moving to California, he frequently returned to the Upper Valley to visit.

“I knew if I was ever going to live anywhere other than San Francisco it was going to be here,” Almanza said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, his job as executive director for the LGBT National Help Center went remote and he decided to make the move to Claremont. Almanza decided to bring his winter tradition to his new city. It doesn’t matter how many people attend: The event will take place whether there a few attendees, or dozens.

“As long as people show up it’s a win,” Almanza said. “This is a chance to know my neighbors.”

Editor’s note: For more information, visit

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

CORRECTION: Aaron Almanza is the organizer of the upcoming "Unsilent Night" event in Claremont. His last name was incorrect in an earlier version of this column.

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