Are You Ready To Start Playing Around South Orange - Pianos Projects?

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2018

For the 5th year, to the delight of many residents in the community, Playin’ Around South Orange project pianos were deployed on August 25th all Around South Orange.  Playin’ Around South Orange is a public art project that highlights both the visual and the performing arts.  Pianos transform into works of art themselves by extraordinary local artists, providing unexpected and delightful encounters and encourage active arts engagement in our day-to-day lives through the spontaneous making of music. https://www.sopacnow.org/community/sopianos/.

Are You Ready To Start Playing Around South Orange.jpg

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Artist

This year, five artists were selected to design these pianos and then they are placed on the streets of South Orange, NJ.  The artists are: 

Arts Council of East Orange.jpg
  • The ARTS COUNCIL OF EAST ORANGE painted the piano at the South Orange Gazebo venue. Members of the council are: Gwendolyn ‘Arri’ Jackson, Irene Pomianowski lead the team (Jae Bianca Jackson, Helena L Branch, Jeffrey ‘Sizzy’ Osborne and Marsha Wilderson).

Elina Rosenblum and Veronika Hapco.jpg
  • Elina Rosenblum and Veronika Hapco painted the piano located at Spiotta Park.

Jessica Skultety painted the Baby Grand piano on South Orange Ave.jpg
  • Jessica Skultety painted the Baby Grand piano on South Orange Ave.

  • Kurk Maynard painted the piano located at Irvington.

  • Bill Beillec painted the piano located at Seton Hall.

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Community Participation

A wonderful part of this project is that anybody can play these pianos.  In the last years, the community has come to expect them and start inquiring to their deployment Around South Orange in June.  Since the normal deployment is at the end of August, much anticipation is built up all summer long.  The pianos are out on the South Orange streets for 6 weeks and folks from in and out-of-town come through and enjoy them all day and night, too.  There is a map at https://www.sopacnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PASO-Map-2018. These pianos are available for all to perform on, anytime the urge hits you.

Part of this weekend’s fun was the musicians that came out to play, such as Theo Walentiny playing on the South Orange Baby Grand piano with vocalist Elora Aclin while Mark Madonna of the Five Cent Philosophers and his son played tunes at the Jersey Divas piano.

Mark Madonna of the Five Cent Philosophers and his son play tunes at the Jersey Divas piano.jpg

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Musician’s Community Jam  Performances

Next up, we conduct community jams and performances during the evening for folks to come out and enjoy.  With some returning performers and a few newly selected performers, we now have a weekly performance/community jam schedule.  Also, in line with the Jazz Divas piano theme, our first selected pianist, Hal Keshner, has informed us that he may honor each Jersey Diva by playing a tune dedicated to each diva. 

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The selected musicians that you should come out and support are:

  • Bandleader, guitarist, singer, and pianist Hal Keshner - Thursday 8/30/2018 6-8PM

  • Piano Man Robert Richardson & Vocalist Steven Grice - Thursday 9/13/2018 6-8PM

  • Vocalist Barbara Hassenfeld and Friends - Tuesday 9/18/2018 6-8PM

  • Music teacher and pianist Mustafa “Music King” Daniels - Thursday 9/27/2018 6-8PM

Join us, as all vocalists/instrumentalists are welcome to come join in the fun, before, after and during the performances.

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Wrap-Up

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The closing of the Playin’ Around South Orange program falls on or about Sunday, October 7th. To honor each year’s pianos as pieces of art, they are auctioned off and/or donated to benefit SOPAC’s education programming.  Playin’ Around South Orange is proudly sponsored by Patti Donovan.  Artist and piano design are managed by the South Orange Performing Arts Center with local live music promoter Gregory Burrus managing the weekly community jams.  For more details please contact Linda Beard at (973) 382-1035.

About the Author

  Gregory Burrus with Artist Irene Pomianowski

Gregory Burrus with Artist Irene Pomianowski

Gregory Burrus, Your Live Music Ambassador, invites you to stay tuned as there is much more to come.  

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. On a regular basis, Gregory Burrus is promoter and manager of Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts, Playing Pianos Around South Orange, NJ, Farmers Market Jazz Jam along with many other musical ventures.

Gregory promotes events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.  Having fun living life while helping others.

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