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Kids On Keys & Dueling Pianos
To Promote Autism Awareness

By Gary Wien

originally published: 04/24/2018

Kids On Keys & Dueling Pianos To Promote Autism Awareness

“As a schooled pianist and seeing so much since the age of three when I started formal lessons, I have always thought that when someone has a setback with Autism or something similar, that somewhere they are rewarded with a special talent that I’ll never have,” said Stormin’ Norman Seldin, a Jersey Shore musical legend.

Seldin will be part of a special concert on Saturday, May 5th at Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre.  It’s an event to benefit Autism Awareness that also includes three young piano prodigies, Tim McLoone, and the amazing Steinway & Sons “Spirio” Grand Piano.

Stormin’ Norman will take the bench at the Steinway and Sons Model D (furnished for the occasion by Jacobs Music of Lawrenceville) for a soulful set of originals and classic covers drawn from his decades-spanning career and encyclopedic musical memory. As a special treat, he’ll be joined by a fellow Shore area favorite entertainer — pianist, vocalist and ace accompanist Vance Villastrigo — for a set-within-a-set that could only be called “Dueling Pianos.”

The three young piano prodigies include Elizabeth Williams and Andy Milsten (both 14 years old) and 9-year-old Taksh Gupta. Williams has performed at Carnegie Hall, and was accepted into The Julliard School’s Music Advancement Program when she was 9.  

Even though he’s only nine, Gupta has been participating in piano competitions for four years and is a two-time first prize winner at NJMTA Spring Audition.  He’s performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, Rutgers University, Rider University and Stockton University.  



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As for Milsten, this is a special concert for him.  He was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum at age three.  He began playing the trumpet in the 4th grade and progressed well with learning the instrument.  His parents were pleasantly surprised to see how focused and socially appropriate Andy was during a school’s Spring Concert.  He was even able to hold things together in the evening after his medication had worn off. 

In the 7th grade, Andy became interested in the music of John Williams.  He listened to all of Williams’ movie themes on YouTube, and tried to play the themes on his trumpet.  His parents had purchased an electronic keyboard for Andy’s sister who expressed an interest in taking piano lessons.  Andy started to try to play John Williams’ music on the keyboard and figured out the melodies fairly quickly. His father took him to the York Symphony Orchestra who was performing the works of John Williams in concert.  It was there that his love for the symphony was born and he now regularly attends classical music concerts every month.

Kids On Keys & Dueling Pianos To Promote Autism AwarenessSeldin has known the three young performers for many years and has watched them progress as musicians. When he thinks of Milsten, it reminds him both of his early days at the piano and the power of music itself.

“Andy plays because he loves what he has found and has no fear when he is at the piano like many others would have,” said Seldin. “I have no doubt that somewhere in his mind he is connecting with much more of the world when he plays music.  And when someone feels that there is no stopping them.”

 The concert will be a treat for pianists and piano lovers to see and hear the Steinway & Songs “Spirio” Grand Piano. This is an American handcrafted piano that takes between 10-14 months to build.  The Spirio is the world’s finest high-resolution player piano. Attendees will hear pieces from Vladimir Horowitz, Lang Lang, and George Gershwin played live on this masterpiece of artistry and engineering.

“I am an official Steinway Spirio recording artist and when I did my recordings, it haunted me to hear ‘exactly what I played’ coming out of an acoustic grand,” said Seldin.  “If time allows, I might let the Spirio play one of my recordings and I’ll do the second part on another grand piano on stage.  Each note has over 1,100 variations of touch on it.  It’s amazing!”

Tickets for the concert range from $25 to $35 for adults and $10 for students.  The concert takes place in the Pollak Theatre on the campus of Monmouth University in West Long Branch.

For an event designed to raise awareness of Autism, seeing Andy Milsten perform will bring it all into focus and his parents sum it up best.

“Andy has truly found his home in music.  Music makes him happy, gives him purpose, and an enormous sense of worth and accomplishment.  His demeanor has changed dramatically in the past year in direct correlation with his musical advancement.  For the first time since Andy’s autism diagnosis in 2007, we are excited about all that his future may hold.”




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State Theatre Presents Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet Tour
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Diana Krall live in concert as part of her Turn Up The Quiet World Tour on Friday, October 12 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $43-$153.50.  This concert will feature songs from Diana Krall’s stunning new album, Turn Up The Quiet, out now on Verve Records as well as a mix of some fan favorites. 
Kean Stage Presents The Manhattan Transfer
(UNION, NJ) -- Going strong after more than 45 years, Grammy Award winner The Manhattan Transfer, with tenor vocals from Kean University alumnus Alan Paul '71, will captivate Kean Stage audiences with their distinctive four-part harmonies at Enlow Recital Hall on Sunday, September 30 at 3:00pm.
3rd Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival returns to Jersey City on October 6. Presented by Mint 400 Records and Sniffling Indie Kids, the festival includes acts from those labels and Little Dickman Records, Rhyme and Reason Records, and State Champion Records.  The festival takes place at White Eagle Hall. Doors are at 4:00pm and the music starts at 4:30pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
Bobby McFerrin To Kick Off the 125th Season Of Princeton University Concerts
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- On Friday, September 21, 2018 at 7:30pm, 10-time GRAMMY award-winning artist Bobby McFerrin launches Princeton University Concerts’ (“PUC”) 125th Anniversary Season in a special event performance at Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. The concert will feature McFerrin alongside members of his a cappella group Gimme5 in a program titled “ Circlesongs ” -- an evening of spontaneous music-making through shared improvised sound, in a language growing out of tribal chant and sacred music. 
The Dryden Ensemble Presents Bach Cantata Fest
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Dryden Ensemble will present a Bach Cantata Fest on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 6587 Upper York Road, Solebury, Pennsylvania, and on Sunday, October 21 at 3:00pm at Miller Chapel, located on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton, New Jersey. Tickets are $25 for general admission and free to students with an ID. They may be purchased at the door or online at www.drydenensemble.org.


“Here’s Lucie!” Lucie Arnaz LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center
Even though the weather outside Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center is cloudy with some light intermittent drizzle this Wednesday, September 12, 2018 afternoon, the venue’s stage is still shining brightly with talent thanks to a live performance by television, film, and stage actress/singer Lucie Arnaz!
Mike Aiken Talks About Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch At RVCC
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) -- Raritan Valley Community College presents Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22.  The three-day event will feature a number of different musical shows by Mike Aiken, as well as other solo artists and groups.  
Virtuoso Jazz Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
It’s a warm but lovely Aug. 23, 2018 evening here in Newton, NJ. After enjoying some hand-dipped Cliff’s ice cream from the window at Hayek Market, we march up Spring Street looking forward to hearing some world-class jazz at one of the Garden State’s favorite concert venues, The Newton Theatre.
An Interview with Bernie Williams
Four-time World Series Champion and Latin Grammy-Nominated guitarist and composer Bernie Williams will perform with his All-Star Band at the Jersey Shore this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at The Grunin Center of the Arts in Toms River, NJ!
“Unleash the Love” The Beach Boys LIVE! at The Great Auditorium
So what were you doing at 8:18 pm on 8/18/18? Well, we’re not sure what you were up to, but we know that on that hot August night, we were listening to “America’s Band” — The Beach Boys — and watching them “Unleash the Love” while performing their incredible catalog of hits at Ocean Grove NJ’s Great Auditorium!










Event calendar
Friday, Sep 21, 2018


MUSIC

Talib Kweli @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park - 9:00pm


JESSIE’S GIRL @ The Wellmont Theater, Montclair - 8:00pm

Bill Staines at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, , Morristown - 7:30pm

FELIX CAVALIERE AND GENE CORNISH’S RASCALS @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm

MICHAEL MCDONALD @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Up Close & Personal 2 with "Them Lean On Me Boys"...RIFF @ Hamilton Stage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Marshall Tucker Band with special guest The Outlaws @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm

The Jeff Jensen Band @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 1 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 8:00pm

OPEN auditions for Sondheim on Sondheim @ Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood - 7:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Harlem Quartet" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College , Princeton - 7:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Portrait de Ludmilla en Nina Simone " @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 9:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


FILM

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Quote-A-Long @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 7:00pm

New Jersey Film Festival @ Voorhees Hall #105, New Brunswick - 7:00pm


LECTURE

AN EVENING WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA, MD @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:30pm

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