SOPAC 4th Annual ‘Playin’ Around South Orange’ Kicks Off August 27

by The Village Green
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

The following is from South Orange Performing Arts Center:

Playin’ Around South Orange kicks off for the fourth year in a row on Saturday, August 27th at noon, bringing live music and art in the form of hand-painted pianos and outdoor performances to seven separate South Orange locations. The SOPAC-presented project runs from August 27th through September 25th with Wednesday-night jam sessions scheduled each week of September under the Sloan Street Gazebo from 5-7pm. Other community supporters include The Baird, Village of South Orange, South Orange Village Community Alliance (SOVCA) and Seton Hall University.

Kick-off festivities will include live performances by professional musicians at each of the five piano locations from noon until 1PM on Saturday, August 27th.  Many of the artists will also be in attendance at their pianos. With simultaneous mini-concerts happening all over town, the day should be music and art-inspired. Piano locations are Cameron Park, The Gateway, Spiotta Park, Irvington and W. Fairview Avenues, the Sloan Street Gazebo, and the South Orange Public Library.  Details are listed on the SOPAC website, as well.

Wednesday 5-7PM JAM sessions will be held at the Sloan Street Gazebo with the following musicians: Aug. 31-Bob MacKay, Sept. 7-Steve Teti, Sept 14-Mark Murphy’s Music, Sept. 21– Mark Madonna.

Each year, local artists complete an application process for the honor of transforming an old piano into a contemporary piece of art. On average each artist donates up to 30 hours per piano to bring this musical event to life. Paint and supplies either come from the artists themselves or are donated by local businesses.

Artists this year include: Anjole King, an experienced artist and graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology will be participating in Playin’ Around South Orange for the second year in a row. King’s piano will be located at the South Orange Public Library and is inspired by her fascination with animal print. “I love animal prints and the wild life. I’m also inspired by patterns, prints, textures and I love vibrant colors,” stated King. Bill Billec, a third time participant, created his own take on a Star Wars-inspired baby grand that will be located at The Gateway. A new break-out mother daughter duo, Elizabeth and Allie Sobio painted an awe-inspiring, picturesque piano that will be featured at Spiotta Park. “I am honored to be selected to work on this project,” stated Elizabeth Sibio. “Not only was it a great project to work on the piano with my daughter, but I think it also increases appreciation of beauty and culture for all walks of life. I also consider art to be therapeutic for me!”

The Friends of the 1978 Gallery in Maplewood painted and donated their piano to be located at Irvington and Fairview Avenues. A recent Columbia High School graduate and participant in the Inspired Minds Exhibit, Emily Katherine Glynn painted a vibrant Elton John piano that will be located at the Sloan Street Gazebo.  Emily Katherine Glynn is the daughter of a former artist participant, Marie Elena Glynn. “I’m really excited because I’ve seen my mom participate in 2013 and last year. I think I’ve subconsciously been planning to do one too,” said Emily. Her family will be traveling from Japan to take part in the art project.

To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the South Orange Public Library, friends and staff pitched in to create the timeline of the library’s events.  The piano is located at Cameron Park.

Seton Hall University Student Government Association painted the piano located at the Bishop Dougherty University Center on the SHU campus.

Pianos are donated by various individuals from throughout the community. Director of SOPAC Community Engagement, Linda Beard, works throughout the year to find donated pianos. “People get more and more excited about this project every year,” bubbled Linda. “With the addition of the Friends of the 1978 Gallery piano, and the 150th Anniversary of the South Orange Library celebration piano, it feels as if  more and more groups are getting into the act. We love the fact that this project is for the community, and by the community.” 

Weather is an obvious challenge for the instruments. SOPAC staff try to watch the forecast while the pianos are out, but occasionally a compassionate citizen will take notice of an impending storm and spontaneously pull a SOPAC-supplied blue tarp over the artwork, preserving it for a few more improvisational concerts. “This project belongs to South Orange,” notes Linda. “We want people to feel part of the entire outdoor music experience, even if that means protecting the pianos from the weather.”

All seven pianos will be up for auction at from the point of kick-off until September 25th when Playin’ Around South Orange is scheduled to end. More information on the auction, jam sessions, and the pianos is available on the SOPAC website at

Where: South Orange

Tickets: Free and open to the public or visit

Media Contact: Dee Billia, (973) 382-1031

Sat 8/27 at 12PM – 2016 Playin’ Around South Orange Kick-Off Festivities


Related Articles