Whitaker Center is dusting off its Steinway piano and opening the doors to local lunch-breakers next week for the first program in its “Thursday Afternoon” series.
Initially to be held twice each month, the series asks community members to step out of their offices and into an experience with the arts during lunch hour, free of charge.
“You will get more exposure to the local music scene,” said Whitaker Center CEO Ted Black. “It’s a nice relaxing break from your day.”
Attendees are invited to bring something as simple as a bag lunch to enjoy during the performances or something more sumptuous like a bottle of Prosecco, added Thursday Afternoon Curator Jeff Lynch.
The event is sponsored by a long-time supporter of Whitaker Center, the Lois Lehrman Grass Foundation.
The first performance, on Nov. 7, will be an afternoon of jazz in the Kunkel Gallery by the Paul Jost Quartet. Jost is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger whose voice Lynch described as a mix of Tony Bennett and Sting.
“You could go see Paul in Paris for $50 a head or you could go see him at the Whitaker Center for free,” Lynch said.
Another musical artist appearing in November will be inspirational singer Emmanuel Nsingani, who brings African flair to his jazz, which centers around lyrics of humanitarian concerns and hope. He will perform in the AMP Lobby.
In the following weeks, Bobby Gentilo will provide Mississippi blues to the community and the Jonathan Ragonese and Steve Rudolph duo continue the jazz theme with saxophone and keyboard performances.
“We are blessed to have some extraordinarily talented people nearby,” Lynch said.
Lynch recognized that, for many people, concerts and art events can seem inaccessible due to costs or time commitments, but the “Thursday Afternoon” series it trying to change that.
“This requires minimal investment,” he said. “It’s a free gig.”
Not only was the series created to engage the community in the arts, but to get people interested in Whitaker Center as a whole.
“We want to look forward to attracting the next generation,” Black said. “It’s an opportunity to reintroduce people to all that is happening.”
He mentioned that, during the same week as the launch of the music series, Whitaker Center will host the grand re-opening of the Harsco Science Center, which includes a renovated KidsPlace and new STEM Design Studios.
The Thursday Afternoon series will be held on Nov. 7 and 14 and Dec. 5 and 26. More may be scheduled in the future depending on how these are received.
“My hope is they go out and support performing arts,” Lynch said. “I just want the scene to be cool here.”
The Thursday Afternoon series runs 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., starting on Nov. 7, at Whitaker Center, 222 Market St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit https://www.whitakercenter.org/events/detail/thursday-afternoon.