The Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown held a Coffee and Classics concert earlier this month that featured pianist and composer Frank Staneck performing original compositions and holiday classics.
The twice-monthly Coffee and Classics music series of free concerts takes place on Thursdays at 2 p.m. from fall to spring at Perkins’ Moorestown location. Music varies from jazz duets to flute, sing-along holiday tunes, classical works and piano solos, according to Perkins’ website.
Coffee and Classics is one of Perkins’ many free community programs; others include Conversations on Culture, Perkins World Stage, a pumpkin party, Community Arts Experiences and the Youth Arts Party.
“ … We primarily work with musicians and artists who are currently teaching with or performing with us,” said Perkins’ Executive Director Kahra Buss of the music series. “It’s an opportunity for us to broaden their audience as well as provide the community with a really nice respite in the middle of the week, in the middle of the afternoon.
“It seems to be a perfect time when people get together, they come, and I would say over the last four months, we’ve experienced a significant increase in attendance.”
Buss is happy to see people take advantage of the program.
“I think for us it’s really an amazing visual representation of how the community is responding to these free programs,” she noted. “It’s one of the reasons that as a nonprofit, doing free programming means we support the musicians and we’re supporting the audience in the facility, but we’re always looking to establish community partnerships to make sure these are sustainable and to create an ongoing and lasting impact.”
Conservatory Manager Tina Schofield pointed out that programs like Coffee and Classics are not only entertaining, but also offer something more for both the artist and the audience.
“It gives the artists a chance to just talk rather than just sit (and) perform,” she explained, “so I think it’s really cool what it’s become. I think a really cool thing that this on its own turned out to be is there’s an instructional aspect to it, like a lecture or recital.”
According to the New Jersey School of Music’s website, Staneck’s compositions have been performed by groups including The Wister Quartet – who are Philadelphia Orchestra members – the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey, the Greater South Jersey Chorus, Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey and the West Jersey Chamber Music Society.
Staneck’s music has been aired on Temple University’s WRTI 90.1 FM, WHYY 91 FM Philadelphia’s NPR station and on “Classical Discoveries.” with Marvin Rosen, on WPRB 103.3 FM Princeton. He’s been teaching at Perkins since 1995 and writes a great deal of music for his students.
Something he loves about performing for others? Getting through it with no mistakes.
“The concentration and getting in the zone, somehow lately is hard,” he acknowledged. “There’s just a lot of things running around in your head and to just be like, ‘Let’s do music, right now, right here and do that,’ nothing else matters in the minutes while you’re playing.”
For more information on Perkins’ free programs, visit www.perkinsarts.org.