There were good “vibes” all-around at the Con Edison-Town Hall Black History Month celebration at The Town Hall on Broadway (123 W. 43rd St.) Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 with performances by Grammy-nominated vibraphonist Stefon Harris.
Harris thumped out rhythmic tunes on his vibraphone and marimba, a percussion instruments used with mallets, that were reminiscent of musical elements used by legendary jazz vibraphonists Lionel Hampton and Cal Tjader.
The annual, two-day free event sponsored by Con Edison, wowed nearly 4,500 New York City schoolchildren. The shows are part of the school curriculum to introduce students to the arts.
“The hallmark of our 21-year partnership with The Town Hall is to present unique performers who can fascinate as well as educate children,” said Frances A. Resheske, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at Con Edison.
“Town Hall and Con Edison have a very successful collaboration with this arts and education program,” said Lawrence Zucker, executive director, The Town Hall. “Teachers and students who attend tell us how the artists affect their understanding of African-American contributions to the arts, and how they are inspired and eager to learn more. That’s a good measure of educational success for us.”
Harris was joined on the historic Broadway stage by his friends, pianist James Francies, bassist Ben Williams and Jonathan Barber on drums. For many of the students, the event was their first major theatrical experience.
The four-time Grammy nominee was named Best Mallet Player eight times by the Jazz Journalists Association. Harris has also recorded and performed with many of music’s greatest artists, including Chaka Khan, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Cassandra Wilson, Dr. Billy Taylor and Diana Krall.
Con Edison supports hundreds of nonprofit organizations in New York City and Westchester County to strengthen neighborhoods, sustain communities and improve lives. These philanthropic efforts support the arts, environment and important educational initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Many of Con Edison’s 14,000 employees share a personal commitment to the region’s vitality through their own volunteer efforts and also choose to support education by utilizing the company’s matching gifts program.