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50 Pianos in 50 Schools

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This past summer, when our 50 Sing for Hope Pianos were placed throughout NYC’s parks and public spaces for everyone to enjoy, there was a group of unsung heroes quietly playing a key role behind the scenes. This heroic volunteer band of Sing for Hope Piano Buddies worked to protect each instrument from rain and other calamities, ensuring that all 50 pianos survived the summer in pristine condition. The task of piano protection was all the more important this year becausethanks to Sing for Hope’s new partnership with the NYC Department of Educationupon the close of the pianos’ summertime parks residency, all 50 Sing for Hope Pianos had already been promised to permanent homes in NYC public schools, where they will benefit an estimated 16,000 school children. With the pianos’ permanent school homes in mind, our 100+ Piano Buddies took extra care to check on their pianos at all hours of day and night, covering them when rain was predicted, uncovering them when the sun returned, and reporting sticking keys, loose pedals, and other occupational hazards to our mobile team of piano technicians.

The process for selecting the The 2016 Sing for Hope Pianos’ scholastic “forever homes” had actually begun several months before the instruments hit the streets. During the Spring semester of the 2015/16 school year, all NYC public schools across the five boroughs were invited to apply to receive a Sing for Hope Piano, and our team fielded hundreds of applications for the 50 instruments. Knowing that, for every school slated to receive a Sing for Hope Piano, we would have to turn down at least two deserving schools, we could not ignore the dire need underscoring the process. (Comptroller Scott Stringer’s recent analysis of Education Department data has shown that fully 20% of our urban schools have no arts programming whatsoever, despite the proven benefits of arts education on entire school cultures [State of the Arts, April 2014]).

pizap-com14794907976511The applications ranged from heartbreaking to inspiring. A few excerpts:

I love the title ‘Sing for Hope Piano’ because that is exactly what it will give our students—hope! Our students are from low-income families and our school is in a poor area. The students have every right to be discouraged, but instead they come to school trusting that they will have a good experience, and learn something new. For our students to be able to stand and sing accompanied by a piano, to listen and watch the music teacher play the piano, to learn to touch and play a piano: these would be remarkable moments!” —P17X, Bronx

“Music for my students is the best part of their day… They can shine, sing, play instruments and release energy while being creative at the same time. My students are living in poverty, many in shelters, and they deserve only the best when they are in school. All my students deserve a chance to play a real piano. Our school focuses on the students being part of a community, to learn to love one another and themselves, that each student is important and that each student can excel… I would love to show them that with a new piano. This piano will brighten up the school!”  —PS401, Brooklyn

“Our school serves students often in extreme poverty. Our arts program is supported by our administration, but large items such as pianos are never able to make it into the budget… A new piano would greatly enhance students’ ability to learn this wonderful instrument—as due to lack of a quality piano we are currently having to say ‘no’ when a student asks if they can learn piano.”  —Grand Street Campus High School, Brooklyn 

“Our current piano is on loan from our principal’s house. We desperately need a piano.”  —East-West School of International Studies, Queens

From the hundreds of applications received, fifty schools were selected to receive Sing for Hope Pianos based on immediate need, and the pianos began rolling into schools in September. Each school was treated to a special “Sing for Hope Piano Dedication Assembly Program” in which our team recounted the project’s history, philosophy, and operational logistics through narrative and images. The visual artists who created the piano artworks joined the celebrations to talk to the kids directly about the art on the pianos, and the process by which it was conceived and executed. Performing artists from the Sing for Hope Volunteer Roster helped to inaugurate each piano with a lively musical performance, and student performers joined in with musical performances of their own to welcome the piano into their school.

The 2016 Sing for Hope Pianos were awarded to all age groups and will be used for everything from pre-K music classes to high school chorus and musical productions. Some schools will use them for dance troupes and some will use them for piano lessons. All told, the 50 Sing for Hope Pianos will be used by over 16,000 students this yearand every yearas the Pianos live on permanently in each school.

pizap-com14794911928631Rave reviews are already rolling in:

“The Sing for Hope Piano Dedication Assembly was definitely one of the most memorable assemblies we’ve had, and our students really enjoyed the performance and learning about our new instrument. We can’t wait to create beautiful music of our own!– Ms. Angderson, P17X, Bronx

“Thank you all so much! You have brought a lot of smiles to kids and adults alike. The school has been buzzing with excitement since you left and many students are coming up to me wanting to learn to play or wanting to look at the beautiful paintings on the piano. A million thanks!” – Mr. Kucher, P811M @ 149, Manhattan

“Sing for Hope has made our music classes magical with this piano, and our children will always remember it as a symbol of community and love in our school.” – Ms. Young, PSM, Washington Heights

Preparations for our next crop of Sing for Hope Pianos have already begun. The 2017 artist-designed instruments will hit the parks and public spaces of all 5 boroughs from June 5-25, 2017, and then, in our continued partnership with the NYC Department of Education, move to their permanent homes in schools next fall. Artist applications for The 2017 Sing for Hope Pianos are currently being accepted here.

But we can’t do it without you. Our goal for 2017 is to try to keep up with demand and reach at least half of the 150 schools currently on our waiting list. Please help us make this a reality, and keep the music playing by donating today at www.singforhope.org/donate. For individuals and foundations interested in providing a transformative gift and ensuring the future of our student programs by joining The Sing for Hope Founders’ Circle (The Arnhold Foundation in loving memory of Sissy Arnhold, The Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation, and Ann Ziff) or The Sing for Hope Visionaries (The Ford Foundation and The Lulu & Leo Fund), please contact Sing for Hope Chief Operating Officer Richard Robertson at r.robertson@singforhope.org.

Music can change a child’s life forever. Thank you for helping to transform individuals and communities in lasting ways, and for being PART OF THE ART!

artistsSING FOR HOPE fast facts ~

Since 2006, Sing for Hope has partnered with over 250 nonprofit organizations, involved over 3,500 artists in community volunteerism, and placed over 330 artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos throughout NYC’s parks and public spaces for everyone to playa symbol and celebration of art for all.

ABOUT OUR FLAGSHIP “ART FOR ALL” PROGRAM, THE SING FOR HOPE PIANOS

  • +   The country’s largest recurring public arts project, reaching an estimated 2 million New Yorkers and visitors annually across the 5 boroughs since its 2010 launch.
  • +   Visible on a global scale, with over 2 billion media impressions—more than any other interactive public arts initiative in the country in the last decade.
  • +   To date, Sing for Hope has placed over 330 artist-designed pianos throughout the parks and public spaces of NYC’s 5 boroughs each summer for anyone and everyone to play—a symbol and celebration of our mission of “art for all.” In addition to the NYC installation, we place individual flagship Sing for Hope Pianos at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entreprenuership in Oxford, UK, and the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, with additional possible cities pending for 2017.
  • +   After the public installation, the Sing for Hope Pianos are placed in permanent homes in under-resourced schools, veterans’ centers, hospitals, disabled persons’ networks, and community-based organizations where they continue to be activated by Sing for Hope’s artists year-round. This year, we are excited to announce that, thanks to our new partnership with the NYC Department of Education, all of the 2016 SFH Pianos will go to NYC public schools, benefiting an estimated 16,000 NYC school children.
  • +   Grammy Award Winner Alicia Keys says, “Each year, Sing for Hope creates a beautiful moment in our city by bringing the Sing for Hope Pianos to our parks and public spaces.  It’s things like this that make me extra proud to be a New Yorker.”
  • +   Select media links:

• MSNBC’s Morning Joe
• NY Times
• NY1 New Yorkers of the Week
• Live from Lincoln Center

  • Select music videos created by artists themselves (showing viral reach of the program):

• music video by GREAT BIG WORLD (on SFH Piano at Brooklyn Bridge)
• music video by VITAL (on SFH Piano in Harlem)
• music video by SARA BAREILLES (on SFH Piano in West Village)

“I believe we have a responsibility and a built-in urge to use our talents and innate gifts to help improve the lives of those less fortunate. Sing for Hope does this every day – from a hospital room in Hell’s Kitchen, to an after-school program in the South Bronx, to The Sing for Hope Pianos on the city streets. I am inspired by this work and proud to be a part of an organization that transforms the lives of under-served New Yorkers on a daily basis.” 

— Dr. Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founding board member, Sing for Hope

Theater Breaking Through Barriers Brings Catharsis to At-Risk Youth via Sing for Hope

Sing for Hope is proud to announce an exciting new Cultural Partnership Program that supports NYC-area arts organizations in their efforts to increase reach, diversify audiences, and model civic spirit. The Sing for Hope Cultural Partnership Program is a go-to resource for arts organizations that want to engage communities on a broader scale, but may not have the budget or bandwidth to establish a full community outreach department.

Provided free of charge to participating arts non-profits, the Sing for Hope Cultural Partnership Program connects arts organizations with appreciative new audiences in under-resourced communities. Sing for Hope handles coordination and logistics for the programs, which range from in-hospital concerts to theatre workshops for underserved youth to collaborative painting sessions in veterans’ centers.

Cultural Partners Theater Breaking through Barriers help dedicate a new Sing for Hope Piano at New York Children’s Center in the Bronx.

Sing for Hope Co-Founder Camille Zamora says, “Thanks to an generous anonymous donor, we are able to offer our new Cultural Partnership Program completely free of charge to the vibrant arts non-profits that make our city so great. Sing for Hope Cultural Partners receive a turn-key arts outreach program that broadens their audiences and impact without having to expend resources on navigating city agencies, infrastructures, etc. Our team handles all logistics pro bono, and the arts companies get to focus on what they do best: creating meaningful art for great audiences. We love what we’re hearing back from our new Cultural Partners report: the program is fun and different for their artists, and transformative for their brand and mission.”

One of Sing for Hope’s terrific new Cultural Partners is the outstanding Theater Breaking through Barriers (TBTB). TBTB is one of the few professional theaters in the country dedicated to advancing actors and writers with disabilities and changing the image of people with disabilities from dependence to independence. TBTB organized and ran a 10-week drama workshop for students at New York City Children’s Center (NYCCC) in the Bronx, which provides behavioral health care services to youth ages 5 to 21 with serious emotional disturbances.

Nicholas Viselli, Artistic Director of TBTB, said, “When Sing for Hope first approached us about bringing our work to New York City Children’s Center, we knew we wanted to get involved. We created an intensive program, led by company member David Rosar Stearns, to help these great kids write their own material to rehearse and perform, while also learning about theatre production, creativity, and self-expression.”

David described his experience this way:  

The only thing that I really knew for sure going into this was that many of these kids had been handed a raw deal, coming from home environments that involved abuse, neglect, and tremendous instability. Out of the fifty some residents, the staff hand picked those children they thought would best benefit from the program and who showed a sincere interest in participating. My group consisted of eight teenagers from 15-17 years old. Since many of the young people were not native English speakers, I was paired with an English teacher, who would be present at all classes according to protocol.

David Rosar Stearns

Over the weeks, we learned about ourselves and each other through playing improv games, doing writing exercises, and singing musical theatre songs. “Defying Gravity” and “For Good” from Wicked, and “Quiet Uptown” and “My Shot” from Hamilton, all became standards for our little group. There would often be tears when hearing these lyrics… One week I did an anonymous writing exercise where the prompt was “Tomorrow I—“ and we concluded the class singing “Tomorrow” from Annie. Reading through the writings on my way home that afternoon, I came across these words: “Tomorrow I will forgive the person who raped me.” In that moment, and many comparable ones, I was brought quickly back to the reality of what these children had been through, and the importance of the catharsis that we can make possible for them through the gift of art. Throughout the workshop the kids thrived, they became more vocal, braver, and softer in what is a very harsh reality. Theater class became an escape, which is what I had hoped it would be for them.

Luis Pinon, Principal of New York City Children’s Center, said, “The theatre program that Sing for Hope brought us, Theatre Breaking through Barriers, has been a welcome delight for our students, and has motivated some students to improve their behavior so as to participate. David has been genuinely interested in assisting our youth to unlock their inner talents and express themselves. Only positive comments from children and staff!”

Sing for Hope welcomes organizations to join in sharing art with communities in need. For more information, contact Michelle Femminella, Director of Volunteer Service, at m.femminella@singforhope.org.

Artists from Sing for Hope Cultural Partner The Richard Tucker Foundation share a song at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

National Theatre of Scotland leads a lively movement workshop as part of their Cultural Partnership with Sing for Hope.

 

Project Leader Spotlight: Adrian Untermyer

“Wouldn’t it be nice to put a piano there?”

If Sing for Hope Project Leader Adrian Untermyer’s name sounds familiar, you might have seen him in a recent New York Times article, speaking about our Sing for Hope Piano, on loan to Port Authority Bus Terminal. In 2016, Adrian passed through the terminal and noticed “a space that was vacant, a spot that 225,000 people pass every day,” and thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to put a piano there?” A Sing for Hope Piano was then designed and hand-painted on-site at the Port Authority Bus Terminal by SFH Artist Partner and noted visual artist/graphic designer Patrick Freeman, whose clients have included Janet Jackson, Neiman Marcus and Virgin Records. Because of Adrian’s initiative and vision, Sing for Hope is now proud to serve thousands of commuters each week with regular Wednesday and Friday programming during the evening rush.

An accomplished pianist, Adrian performs at terminal on a weekly basis, and has brought in such other performers as Anita Antoinette of The Voice, Olivia Harris, James Sheppard, Sarah Factor, and P.J. Duffy. Other SFH Artist Partners who have performed there include concert pianists Michael Fennelly and Jae Han, singer-songwriter Neal Davis, and acclaimed soprano Monique McDonald, who commented that the acoustics of the space felt to her like a jewel-box European opera theater!

When Adrian is not busy performing at the terminal, you can find him at the Historic Districts Council, where as Deputy Director, he works to strengthen and expand the Council’s coalition of organizations and individuals using activism, advocacy, and programming. A passionate transportation advocate, Adrian was named an Emerging Leader in Transportation by the Rudin Center in 2015, and holds an MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.

Catch Adrian every Friday from 5-7 PM at the Port Authority Bus Terminal’s “Performing Arts Stage,” which is located in the second level of the south wing and projects above the first floor’s main circulation area. Interested in playing on the Performing Arts Stage at Port Authority? Sign up here to become a Sing for Hope Artist Partner.


ABC7 News: Piano at the Port Authority Bus Terminal is music to the ears of commuters.

Lester Lynch + Young People’s Chorus SING FOR HOPE!

“Volunteering in Sing for Hope’s programs is a touchstone in my artistic life. It reconnects me with the way our music can elevate and communicate, heart-to-heart. Sing for Hope reminds me of what power we have, as artists, to heal and to help.” – Lester Lynch, Baritone (Sing for Hope Artist since 2007)

Earlier this month, Sing for Hope was delighted to welcome the renowned American baritone Lester Lynch, together with The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, for a special concert of Great American Spirituals celebrating Black History Month.

The free concert (with donations at the door benefiting Sing for Hope’s programs that bring the arts to 16,000 NYC youth annually) attracted a standing-room-only crowd to the historic Christ Church at 524 Park Avenue at East 60th Street. The enthusiastic and diverse audience included Sing for Hope students, general music fans, and classical music luminaries such as Marilyn Horne, whose presence elicited a special tribute from Mr. Lynch.

Listeners reveled in traditional favorites such as My Lord What a Morning, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, Didn’t My Lord Deliver, and Kumbaya, all of which are included on Mr. Lynch’s acclaimed new solo album, “On My Journey Now,” released by Pentatone earlier this month.

Mr. Lynch, whose rich baritone and charismatic portrayals have won him recognition in the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls, has been a Sing for Hope volunteer for nearly a decade. During the concert, he spoke movingly about his commitment to Sing for Hope’s arts outreach mission, and also about the vital role of the Great American Spirituals in our country’s musical treasury. In his words, “These songs have had a profound effect on American history, and it is my hope that they will spark the light of freedom anew for every listener.”

Mr. Lynch was joined in the concert by pianist Joel Martin, Igor Pikayzen, Yotam Ben-Or, Cristian Garcia, Frank W. Malloy III, Frank W. Malloy IV, Atse Theodros, and other leading chamber musicians, and by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, the award-winning multicultural chorus founded in 1988 by Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, widely known for its superb virtuosity and brilliant showmanship.

Heartfelt thanks to the wonderful Nicolle Foland, Lisa Delan, and the Pentatone team for their vision, expertise, and generosity in making this concert possible.

Click here if you’d like to join Lester Lynch and the more than 2,000 generous artists who share their time and talent in Sing for Hope’s programs.

Click here if you’d like to support Sing for Hope’s programs that bring the uplifting power of the arts to young people in need.

Click here to purchase Lester Lynch’s acclaimed new solo album on the Pentatone label, “On My Journey Now.”

Internationally acclaimed baritone Lester Lynch, who has volunteered in Sing for Hope’s programs for nearly a decade, is joined after the concert by student fans and friends from Sing for Hope’s programs.

Opera royalty in the house: Lester shares a post-concert hug with legendary mezzo Marilyn Horne.

Students feeling elegant and excited before the concert!

For a glimpse of Sing for Hope’s programs that transform individuals and communities through the arts, please click on the video below.

Sing for Hope Holiday Harmonies at 28 Liberty

Sing for Hope Shares HOLIDAY HARMONIES thanks to Fosun Foundation, 28 Liberty

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Sing for Hope, the country’s leading “artists’ peace corps,” mobilizes a roster of 2,000 artists of all disciplines who volunteer their time and talent in under-resourced schools, hospitals, and communities, transforming lives through the power of the creative arts. The organization’s flagship program is The Sing for Hope Pianos, which is made possible in large part by The Fosun Foundation and 28 Liberty.

On December 14th, in the expansive lobby of 28 Liberty, Sing for Hope offered a special holiday concert as a thank you to The Fosun Foundation and 28 Liberty. The event paid tribute to Fosun’s philanthropic leadership, which ensures the continuation of Sing for Hope’s programs and delivers on the promise of an extended creative future for under-resourced communities across all five boroughs of New York City.

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String Quintet Sybarite 5 (“not your grandparents’ chamber music” – The Observer)

The festive, informal concert featured eight renowned Sing for Hope Artists in musical selections from around the world, including China, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Pianist Michael Fennelly (“flair and energy” – The New York Times), performing on a 2016 Sing for Hope Piano painted by Volunteer Artist Victoria Wrubel, opened the concert with selections from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. String Quintet Sybarite 5 (“not your grandparents’ chamber music” – The Observer) followed with a selection of boldly innovative selections composed especially for them. Then, lyric soprano Laquita Mitchell (“lovely tonal sheen and soaring high notes” – Opera News) thrilled the audience with European art songs and Christmas classics, and coloratura soprano Megan Weston (“remarkable virtuosity and charm” – The Financial Times) delighted listeners with stunning art songs, including a beautiful traditional song performed in Mandarin.

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Lyric soprano Laquita Mitchell (“lovely tonal sheen and soaring high notes” – Opera News)

Fosun’s support of Sing for Hope takes the form of a beautiful full floor of 28 Liberty, the iconic 60-story tower in Lower Manhattan, which houses The Fosun Sing for Hope Center. A creative hub impacting communities across the five boroughs of New York City and beyond, Fosun’s Sing for Hope Center at 28 Liberty allows for a broad array of creative activity, including rehearsals, master classes, workshops, and the creation of The Sing for Hope Pianos, NYC’s most beloved citywide public art initiative. In addition to bringing music to NYC parks and public spaces each summer, The Sing for Hope Pianos benefit under-resourced NYC youth year-round, as all of the pianos go to permanent homes in public schools following their summer days in the parks. In 2016 alone, thanks to the support of 28 Liberty and The Fosun Foundation, Sing for Hope placed 50 SFH Pianos in 50 NYC public schools, reaching an estimated 16,000 school children.

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The Fosun Sing for Hope Center at 28 Liberty in Lower Manhattan.

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Sing for Hope Piano permanently placed at City Knoll Middle School in Manhattan.

As visitors and passers-by gathered to enjoy the hourlong concert, many were inspired to join in on their favorite holiday songs. As the concert drew to a close, one visitor was overheard to say, “At last! This concert finally put me in the holiday mood. It’s been a tough time recently, but this music brings me hope for the new year.”

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Coloratura soprano Megan Weston (“remarkable virtuosity and charm” – The Financial Times)

Since 2006, Sing for Hope’s arts outreach programs have brought hope and inspiration to thousands of individuals in under-resourced schools, public hospitals, hospices, veterans’ centers, after-school programs, neighborhood centers, nursing homes, and disability networks. To date, Sing for Hope has partnered with over 250 nonprofit organizations, involved over 3,500 artists in community volunteerism, and placed over 335 artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos throughout NYC’s parks and public spaces for everyone to play – a symbol and celebration of art for all. Learn more at www.singforhope.org.

Fosun has made a long-term commitment to 28 Liberty and to the surrounding community. Since acquiring the property in December 2013, Fosun has initiated a renovation program, including the lobby, elevators, and critical infrastructure. Fosun, in collaboration with the Downtown Alliance, has initiated free Wifi service for the convenience of visitors to the building’s plaza. Other community initiatives have included the Dine Around Downtown food festival and the River to River arts festival. Originally One Chase Manhattan Plaza, 28 Liberty was designed by renowned architect Gordon Bunshaft, and was once the headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank. In 1961, David Rockefeller, as head of the bank’s building committee, selected the site and oversaw its construction. Given its historical significance, architectural uniqueness and public impact, One Chase Manhattan Plaza was designated as a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2009. This historically significant building is situated within the heart of the Wall Street Financial District, with modern amenities and direct connection to six subway lines, providing convenient access to public transportation.

To learn more about Fosun’s transformative support of Sing for Hope and the communities it serves, visit http://www.fosun.com/language/en/p/9526.html.

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Rush Hour Rhapsodies

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Singer-songwriter Neil Davis performs at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to debut the Sing for Hope Piano at Port Authority.

SING FOR HOPE PIANO BRINGS INSPIRATION TO PORT AUTHORITY BUS TERMINAL COMMUTERS

A pleasant tune – in fact, many tunes – are now being heard among the steady buzz of thousands of hurried commuters at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. A unique, hand-painted piano—the 338th piano Sing for Hope has placed in public spaces throughout the five boroughs of New York City—was unveiled November 16 at the largest bus terminal in the nation and the busiest in the world, bringing inspiration to rush-hour commuters.

The Sing for Hope Pianos is America’s largest annual public arts project, reaching over one million New Yorkers and visitors ever year since its 2010 launch. Each summer, Sing for Hope places 50 artist-designed hand-painted pianos throughout the parks and public spaces of New York City’s five boroughs each summer for anyone and everyone to play. After the public installation, the Sing for Hope Pianos are placed in permanent homes in under-resourced schools, healthcare facilities, veterans homes, community-based organizations and other places. In 2016, in partnership with the NYC Department of Education, all 50 Sing for Hope Pianos were permanently placed in public schools throughout the five boroughs, bringing the joy of music to an estimated 16,000 students per year.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey partnered with Sing for Hope to bring the piano to the midtown bus terminal as part of its “Quality of Commute” program to enhance the customer experience. The piano is located in the Bus Terminal’s new “Performing Arts Stage” which is located in the second level of the south wing and projects above the first floor’s main circulation area. The performance space is visible from surrounding areas in the first and second levels.

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Monique McDonald brings down the house during the premiere performance on the new Performing Arts Stage in Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Performances will initially be scheduled for Wednesdays and Fridays at the start of the evening rush hour, continuing at least through the holiday season and remainder of the year.

With 232,000 passenger trips each weekday, the Port Authority Bus Terminal is an ideal location for this piano and its music, striking both an unexpected and noteworthy chord, said Sing for Hope co-founders Camille Zamora and Monica Yunus.

“Sing for Hope Pianos are symbolic of our mission of ‘art for all,’” said the co-founders. “These pianos break down barriers between New Yorkers who normally wouldn’t stop and engage with one another. People stop, listen and share, and they start to engage with one another in very meaningful ways – just because of the piano. We are delighted that this special piano will be housed at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, where it will bring the gift of music to millions in an unconventional space.” 

Diannae Ehler, General Manager of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, said, “Through our Quality of Commute program we have partnered with bus carriers to improve the reliable, on-time arrival of buses. We are investing $90 million on improved amenities such as renovated restrooms, new entrance doors and improved cellular service. And now, at no cost, we are proud to partner with Sing for Hope to uplift the customer experience through music. We hope this will inspire commuters at the end of their working day.”

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Clockwise from top: Micheal Fennelly, Jae Han, Patrick Freeman and Camille Zamora are all ready for their close-ups.

Following the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, talented Sing for Hope Volunteer Artists Michael Fennelly, Monique McDonald, Jae Han, Neil Davis, and Adrian Untermyer christened the piano with inaugural performances. Performers for this event, and for the dynamic rush-hour performances that will follow, are drawn from Sing for Hope’s roster of 2,000 volunteer artists. These artists hail from many of New York City’s top companies—from the Metropolitan Opera to the Broadway stage to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and beyond—and are united by their desire to share their art to uplift and transform communities.

This Sing for Hope Piano was designed and hand-painted by Volunteer Artist Patrick Freeman, a noted visual artist and graphic designer whose clients have included Janet Jackson, Neiman Marcus and Virgin Records. Pianist Adrian Untermyer, a Sing for Hope Volunteer, spearheaded the placement of the Port Authority piano after passing the empty space where the piano now stands. The baby grand piano was donated by Nancy and Allen Feldman of Manhattan.

pizap-com14794984152202The 2016 Sing for Hope Pianos are made possible by the support of Fosun International and The Sing for Hope Founders’ Circle (The Arnhold Foundation in loving memory of Sissy Arnhold, The Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation, and Ann Ziff).

The Port Authority and Sing for Hope also will recruit artists and members of the public to volunteer their talents by performing at the piano. Anyone interested should sign up here to become a Sing for Hope Volunteer Artist.

 

New Friends, New Discoveries at the SFH Arts Intensive

“Last year I attended the Sing For Hope Arts Intensive, and it was the most enjoyable and rejuvenating experience… There were so many new things that I tried out, from the different dance styles to the a cappella singing to drawing in new ways. These new art skills made me more comfortable to try new things and made me more confident… Not only that, the Arts Intensive also introduced me to new friends I talked with even after the final performance. My experience translated to school too, after summer ended. I became much more open to new people, my confidence was at an all-time high in terms of schoolwork and socializing, and overall I have felt much more creative and thoughtful. My passion for music and writing was reignited and I am comfortable being more social…”
– Aidan, age 17, Sing for Hope Arts Intensive student in 2015 and 2016 (quote excerpted from Aidan’s 2016 Sing for Hope Arts Intensive application)

Aidan

Each year, Sing for Hope’s summertime Youth Arts Intensive provides motivated high school students with the opportunity to explore various art forms in an immersive, creative environment. Students, who are selected based on the strength of their applications, participate in classes led by professional artists from Sing for Hope’s Volunteer Artist Roster; sessions include acting, improvisation, a cappella, songwriting, visual art, dance, and more. Arts Intensive students hail from all five boroughs, and share two principal qualities: exceptional motivation and passionate interest in learning about different forms of artistic expression. The Sing for Hope Arts Intensive is provided free of charge for participating students.

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Last week, returning Sing for Hope student Aidan (quoted above) was joined by a new cohort of motivated New York City high school students for the first week of the fourth annual Sing for Hope Arts Intensive (Session 1). Hosted at Glasgow Caledonian University New York in Soho, the Intensive provided Aidan and his peers with high-quality artistic experiences powered by Sing for Hope Volunteer Artists. Under the careful guidance of Sing for Hope Youth Arts Director Stephanie Martinez, the annual program is an example what educator, activist, and philosopher Maxine Greene referred to as participatory involvement in many forms of art, which enables us to see more in our experience, and to hear more on normally unheard frequencies…”

At the core of the Sing for Hope Youth Arts Intensive is a safe, supportive community environment where students are valued and feel comfortable exploring and expressing themselves through various art forms, ranging from portraiture to Broadway dance to songwriting.

“Over the past five days, I’ve learned a lot.  Not only things about the arts, but about who I am as a person.  I was challenged and I’m grateful for those challenges.  It made me realize what I truly can do… Everyone is unique in their own way and everyone I came across was truly talented. Each of us has something special, and when we came together, it was truly beautiful.”   – Sakora, age 16

Sakora

Volunteer Artist Rachael Hendel advises a student on her drawing in a Visual Arts workshop.

Volunteer Artist Rachael Hendel advises a student on her drawing in a Visual Arts workshop.

Students rehearse their acting scene in a workshop led by Volunteer Artists Erika Henningsen and Sevans Martinez.

Students rehearse their acting scene in a workshop led by Volunteer Artists Erika Henningsen and Sevans Martinez.

This past Friday evening, July 22nd, friends and family came together to celebrate this talented, inspiring group of young people and all that they have accomplished. Among the highlights of the program was an original song, entitled “Together,” composed by students under the guidance of Sing for Hope Volunteer Artist Will Armstrong:

Together
Music and Lyrics by the 2016 Sing for Hope Arts Intensive Students, Session 1

I’d like to say that better days will come your way
And better days will come, so don’t you cry
No need to fret or run away
We all must try to realize
What’s before our eyes must change.

We’ll still sing. We’ll still fly.
We’ll still hope. We’ll still try
To find the strength to come together.

Sing for hope. Sing for peace.
Sing for you. Sing for me.
That’s the key.
That’s the key.

Our future’s bright.
We’ll be alright.
Come together.

Today, we welcome a new group of students for Session 2 of the Sing for Hope Arts Intensive. We can’t wait to see what they create together!

Let’s SING FOR HOPE – An East Harlem CommUNITY Sing, Tuesday, July 26th

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” Desmond Tutu

In times of division and difficulty, the arts have power to create bridges and affirm our shared humanity. This Tuesday, July 26th, join us in East Harlem as we come together to share song, hope, and creative connection with our fellow volunteer artists, community-members, and friends of all races, creeds, and orientations.

Let’s SING FOR HOPE – An East Harlem CommUNITY Sing
Tuesday, July 26th / 5:30-6:00pm
Corner of E 106th Street and Third Avenue, New York, NY 10029

Weather permitting, this event will be held outside. This Sing for Hope event is produced in partnership with East Harlem’s Church of the Living Hope, a grassroots church with a 50+ year history of social justice leadership in East Harlem and beyond. This open community event has no religious affiliation and, like all Sing for Hope programs, is open to all. Come as you are… no musical experience is required, and SFH will provide song sheets for communal singing!

Let’s SING FOR HOPE – An East Harlem CommUNITY Sing will take place on Tuesday, July 26th from 5:30-6pm at the corner of E 106th Street and Third Avenue. The event will rally volunteer artists, community-members, and friends of all races, creeds, and orientations around a one-of-a-kind “Sing for Hope Piano-Mobile” which debuted in Harlem earlier this summer. 

The Sing for Hope Piano-Mobile a brilliantly colored art-piano-on-wheels  arrived on the streets in late June, shortly after Sing for Hope’s fifth annual citywide public piano installation, which earlier this summer placed 50 artist-created pianos throughout NYC’s parks and public spaces for all to enjoy. The SFH Piano-Mobile has played a central role in a monthlong storytelling “Listening Project” in East Harlem this summer, uniting communities through shared story and song.

The piano was originally donated to Sing for Hope by the Tony Award®-winning playwright and author John Guare (The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, Landscape of the Body), who was introduced to Sing for Hope by opera star Renée Fleming, a founding board member of the organization. Guare’s donated piano (autographed on the inside cover by the playwright) is what is referred to as a “cottage piano” a special instrument with 64 keys rather than the usual 88. Its diminutive size makes it ideal for navigating New York City sidewalks, and as such, the perfect instrument for this innovative door-to-door community initiative. 

The piano’s artwork was created by Lindsay Stewart, a member of Sing for Hope’s 1,800-member Volunteer Artist Roster. A painter, designer, and creative director, Stewart is the founder of the popular online community Free Range Mama, which she turned to as a creative outlet following the birth of her second son. In Stewart’s words, “With paint as my music, this is my song: to promote and advocate for children’s individuality and confidence.”

Let’s SING FOR HOPE – An East Harlem CommUNITY Sing leverages the power of shared art to create harmony, in all senses of the word. It also celebrates the volunteer teams (made up of senior citizens and high school students) who powered the listening project. These volunteers hail from East Harlem’s Church of the Living Hope, a vibrant community church located on East 104th street with a 50-year history of outreach and dedication to social justice. Together, they went out in groups of twos and threes to collect stories of resilience and hope from residents living within the 25-block neighborhood of East Harlem spanning from 97th St to 106th St between 2nd Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Over the course of the past month, the volunteers asked questions related to residents’ histories, observations, and dreams, and recorded the responses. Residents’ stories were then retold, in both spoken and musical form, at block parties over the past month on the sidewalks outside the tenements, giving neighbors a reflection of the people who live around them. The Sing for Hope Piano-Mobile was used at each event, block-by-block, over the past 25 days. In the words of Paula Nemerson, Sing for Hope’s Director of Community Arts, “This colorful art piano is a beautiful tribute to shared harmony, and to all of our musical lives. What better symbol could there be for how the arts move and connect us?”

Pic Jointer

We’d love to have you with us on Tuesday for this special moment of shared harmony, open to all.

RSVP to pianos@singforhope.org, and see you there!

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Key Change: Bringing SFH Pianos to the Children of NYC

This year, we are thrilled to announce that, following their public installation (June 9–19), we will transport all of The 2016 Sing for Hope Pianos to new permanent homes in NYC public schools, bringing the power of the arts to an estimated 15,000 New York City school children in 2016–2017.

To make this a reality, Sing for Hope must fundraise $25,000 by June 30. With your help, we can bring the life-changing gift of music to our city’s neediest students.

Will you help us by making a donation today?

With your support, we will be able to cover the $25,000 cost of bringing all the pianos to our schools. The cost includes:

  • • Piano moving costs, transporting the instruments from city parks to their new permanent NYC school homes
  • • Piano technicians and tuners, ensuring that the pianos arrive to their new homes in tip-top shape
  • • Required insurances, filings, and permits.

Every dollar will help bring the gift of a Sing for Hope Piano to a New York City public school.

Music can change a child’s life forever. Please be the Key Change in a child’s life by donating whatever you can! Your generosity means the world to children experiencing musical instruments and regular arts programming for the first time.

On behalf of our students, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


Public Pianos, Vandalism & the Metrics of Hope (or, How to Win 99% of Bets)

(Originally published on HuffingtonPost.com on 6/18/16.)

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MONICA SCHIPPER VIA GETTY IMAGES)

MONICA SCHIPPER VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Since 2010, Sing for Hope has placed a total of 336 Sing for Hope Pianos in the parks and public spaces of NYC for anyone and everyone to play. Doing this, the two questions we field most are:

• what happens when it rains?
• don’t people destroy the pianos?

The answer to the first question is that we have Piano Buddies—heroic volunteers in each community who keep their eyes on the weather forecast and cover the pianos with tarps when it rains.

And the answer to the second question is that, of the 336 artist-designed pianos we’ve placed in NYC parks and public spaces over the past 5 years, a total of 3—i.e. fewer than 1%—have been vandalized.

Sadly, one of those three instances of vandalism occurred earlier this week at Owl’s Head Park in Brooklyn. The morning after the incident, our team met with the Park Manager and Parks Conservancy, and together we decided to return the piano to our SFH Pianos Art Studio at 28 Liberty in Lower Manhattan to see if our lead piano technician could repair it (the damage took the form a pried-off front panel and broken internal hammers, but the artwork had been left intact). The prognosis was good, replacement parts were secured, and three days later, the piano was as good as new and ready to be relaunched in a new location.

The Sing for Hope Piano created by Volunteer Artist Rob Baird and entitled “Numbers,” pictured last week with young friends in Brooklyn’s Owl’s Head Park several hours before the vandalism occurred.

The Sing for Hope Piano created by Volunteer Artist Rob Baird and entitled “Numbers,” pictured last week with young friends in Brooklyn’s Owl’s Head Park several hours before the vandalism occurred.

This year, our small but mighty band at Sing for Hope is especially mindful of the imperative to keep our pianos in good working order long-term because the instruments’ time on the streets is only the beginning of the story. Assuming we are able to meet our $25,000 fundraising goal by the end of this month, Sing for Hope’s new partnership with the NYC Department of Education will allow us to transport all 50 instruments, post-parks residency, to permanent homes in under-resourced public schools, where they will benefit an estimated 15,000 students. For the past month, we’ve been fielding applications from schools who want the pianos, and the testimonials leave no doubt as to whether the arts are desperately needed, and sorely missing, in many of our schools.

So, with its bruises healed, this one vandalized instrument, now happily repaired, will join its 49 piano siblings and become part of a school community. For hundreds of students, the piano—created by Volunteer Artist Rob Baird and entitled “Numbers”—will, in Rob’s words, channel “how the arts, math, and sciences are intertwined as fundamental building blocks of the human experience. It will encourage all of us to embrace the infinite possibilities created when we explore these realms together as a community.”

In many ways, Sing for Hope is simply a working theory: the arts create possibility, possibility creates hope, and our city needs hope. Create direct inroads for artists to share their talents in communities, and see the blossoming that follows. In bringing creative opportunities to underserved communities, Sing for Hope has been referred to a resource re-allocator, but it’s actually more like a resource magnifier. There is a palpable magnification of creativity on both sides of the equation, for volunteering artists as well as for partnering communities. Bottom line: sharing art in community is about placing a bet on the best of what makes us human, on our capacity for creativity and empathy. And when you bet on what is best in people, they step up.

“SFHPianos Photo of the Day” selections chosen this week from social media shares by New Yorkers and visitors across the 5 boroughs.

“SFHPianos Photo of the Day” selections chosen this week from social media shares by New Yorkers and visitors across the 5 boroughs.

There is much discussion in nonprofit-land these days about how we measure impact. To that end, how do we leverage the success metric of SFH Pianos placed in “at-risk” neighborhoods? Put another way, how does one measure hope? Over 99% (99.2518%, to be precise) of these beautiful artist-designed pianos emerge not only un-vandalized, but having uplifted spirits on a broad scale. At a time when our public discourse is divisive and a leading candidate spews vitriol that would have been unimaginable even a year ago, the possibility of coming together with strangers in harmony is compelling. A simple public piano is able to catalyze positive change on levels both communal and individual. Communally, it affirms our common humanity and honors our shared public space; individually, it allows disparate folks to really be seen and heard, and to connect in new and authentic ways (this one golden-voiced Brooklyn mailman is just one of countless examples shared over the past ten days).

The Sing for Hope Pianos are a distillation of the artistic process at its most essential—little seeds of truth and beauty that we hurl out into the world in the hope that they’ll land on hospitable terrain, take root, flower, bear fruit. It can feel risky, but we know it’s vital to our shared survival.

Vandalism happens. It is an urban reality. Part of the miracle of the Sing for Hope Pianos is how rarely our instruments fall victim to it. Less than one percent is a risk we are willing to take. We continue to place our bet on harmony, and we are right over 99% of the time. And for that reason, we play on.

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Learn more about Sing for Hope and find the SFH Piano nearest you at www.singforhope.org.

The 2016 Sing for Hope Pianos “KEY CHANGE: Pianos for the Kids of NYC” program is made possible by our partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the generosity of donors like you.

Make art for all possible: donate today
Join our community: become a volunteer artist