By Gregory Burrus | Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2018
As some may know, I love finding musicians and helping them share their musical gifts with you, the listeners in South Orange, Maplewood, the Valley in Orange, Newark and other parts of Northern New Jersey and beyond.
Gregory Burrus Board Member Maplewood Community Music
Another live music gem in our towns is the Maplewood Community Music organization (MCM) and I, Gregory Burrus, am very happy and honored to announce that I have been chosen as a newly appointed Maplewood Community Music board member. I am thrilled at the opportunity to be part of such a vibrant, community-focused organization that is filled with truly dedicated musicians. This will allow me to continue to move forward my ongoing mission of supporting the arts and spreading the word of sharing their great gifts.
This dedicated group of volunteer musicians and conductors work towards MCM's major goals of giving hobbyist musicians the opportunity to perform and bring music to Maplewood, South Orange, and other nearby communities. Along with getting involved with strategy and direction; I will also be performing social media marketing services and other publicity related activities.
About Maplewood Community Music
Maplewood Community Music (MCM), a non-profit based in Maplewood, NJ, was founded in 2003 by Jim Buchanan and Susan Williams. Jim was the Cultural Affairs Supervisor for Maplewood and had over 34 years of experience in music education and conducting. Susan had played in the Rutgers Band and after a number of years without playing; she approached Jim Buchanan about starting a band. Jim suggested starting rehearsals for a concert band and a jazz band for which he became the musical director. It should be noted that the first rehearsal had only six musicians; the group now has grown to well over 50.
Maplewood Community Music Mission
Now in 2018 celebrating almost 16 years of making music, the mission has expanded to include the following:
bring various types of music to Maplewood and the surrounding areas,
provide local student and adult musicians with the opportunity to join a community ensemble and continue their love of playing and performing,
perform youth outreach that supports the student musicians and inspires our youth to enjoy and possibly play an instrument,
partner with other organizations to bring music-related events to the area,
provide resources including private lesson teachers and musicians for hire
Maplewood Community Music Performances In the Community
MCM is proud to support community events and community/youth music enrichment programs and has a number of ensembles.
Swing Town Big Band
One of the places Maplewood Community performs is in the South Orange annual Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts. Under the direction of Trombonist Ben Williams, the band consists of a Big Band-style jazz ensemble featuring Saxophones, Trumpets, Trombones, Rhythm Section, and Vocalists.
Over the last few years, these large ensembles have grown to consist of 19 pieces, when they perform in South Orange’s Spiotta Park. The crowds are always thoroughly entertained, and I love Jazz Big Bands that take you back in time so it’s awesome to me.
The Maplewood Concert Band
I was able to catch the Concert Band termed “Chestnuts in The Park.” They performed at the truly beautiful South Mountain Reservation Boat House this past summer. This band is a wind ensemble featuring woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.
It was an absolutely wonderful performance against a gorgeous backdrop. Just listening is magic to the ears.
Maplewood Porch Fest
Another great event supported by Maplewood Community Music is the Maplewood Porchfest. Just imagine strolling the streets of Maplewood and stopping at one porch then another and another to enjoy music and entertainment all day long. That’s Porchfest!
A fun and free event every year in the Maplewood, Hilton neighborhood on Labor Day Sunday, rain date Monday. The event kicks off at noon in front of the community center at DeHart park with music, balloons, paper event schedules with maps, a fundraiser bake sale, and a rehearsal for the "honk parade" to start the event. Everyone in the family is welcome to make music and march!
Maple wood's first Porchfest featured 30+ bands performing at more than 20 porches around the Hilton neighborhood. Last year there were 40 plus porches and bands. Folks also got to enjoy a free jitney service running through the middle of the area, so there's a little less walking and a lot more enjoying the fun all over the Hilton neighborhood. And yes, I am very happy to find bands for this voluntary event.
Teachers Turn Concert
This community is great because money for a baby grand was available from an estate. Maplewood Community Music (MCM) facilitated the purchase of the piano and helped find a home with the town in DeHart Park Community center.
The piano teachers of South Orange, Maplewood (SOMA) were thrilled about the new concert grand piano and were grateful to Maplewood Community Music for making that whole endeavor possible. They then developed a benefit concert to celebrate the new piano. They called it "Teachers' Turn." It featured most of the piano teachers actually performing and not the students. It was an absolutely a wonderful afternoon of piano recitals to a packed house. All proceeds from the event were sent to a scholarship fund to help provide private lesson opportunities for kids in Maplewood/South Orange whose families don't have the means to do so themselves.
The Maplewood Community Music ensembles consist of some very dedicated volunteer musicians who wish to practice and perform challenging music in a fun, low-key setting. They meet locally on a Wednesday evening, practice, have fun and enjoy themselves. The Maplewood Concert Band, Swing Band and various small ensembles offer free performances throughout the year. This group also thinks up new ideas and supports other endeavors like the Teachers’ Turn Piano Concerts and the awesome Maplewood Porchfest event.
With all that, I am very happy to have been selected to join the Board of the Maplewood Community Music (MCM) nonprofit. More to come and will definitely work hard to get the word out about this fabulous organization.
Check out calendar for upcoming events!
About the Author
Gregory Burrus is a local live music ambassador, event developer and community partner that develops, manages, promotes and documents local community events in the Greater New Jersey and New York Area.
Gregory Burrus sits on a number of local boards and committees and serves as the Board Member Maplewood Community Music, Manages, Vice President of the North Jersey Blues Alliance, Curates and Promotes the South Orange Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts, the South Orange 24 Hours of Music Festival, the SOPAC Playing Around South Orange Music Initiative, the Maplewood 4th of Music Live Music Events, Newark's Jazz973 at Clements Place Jazz Series, NYC John Jay College Myrna Bain Scholarship Fundraiser, the Orange NJ ValleyArts Music Programs, Creator of the South Orange Farmers Market Jazz Jam, along with booking bands at many other local venues.
Showcasing, photographing, videotaping events and happenings as they occur around town while living life every day to the fullest.