Hartsfield-Jackson hosts closing ceremony for inaugural Pianos for Peace Festival

Filed in Events, News by on October 4, 2016

The inaugural Pianos for Peace Festival ended on a high note Sept. 30, with a closing ceremony marked by musical performances and group dancing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

The event, held in the Domestic Terminal atrium, capped the month-long project aimed at uniting communities by building peace through music and education. The initiative featured 29 hand-painted pianos strategically placed in heavily trafficked areas throughout metro Atlanta – including two at ATL’s Domestic and International terminals – for everyone to enjoy.

“All month long, Airport guests – amateurs and aficionados alike – took to the keyboard and played,” interim Airport General Manager Roosevelt Council Jr. told event attendees. “Whether the players were musically inclined or not, the notes resonated, bringing smiles and joy to guests at the world’s busiest airport.”

Council was joined by Pianos for Peace founder and CEO Malek Jandali, a Syrian native who has seen firsthand the effects of war.

“We are honored to partner with this Airport and with this staff,” Jandali said. “This is just the beginning because we are going to have programs throughout the year.”

In fact, the organization is looking to make art accessible to everyone year-round. To that end, it is donating pianos to nursing homes, health care facilities, community centers and even local schools.

Two of Hartsfield-Jackson’s Partners in Education schools, Jackson Elementary and Tri-Cities High schools, were recipients of these pianos. Both schools’ performing arts groups were on hand Sept. 30 to sing before the crowd. Also performing was Camila Gomez, a young pianist and the daughter of an artist commissioned to paint one of the pianos.

Musicians from Clay’s Music from the Heart concluded the program with a rendition of “Heal the World.”

Q&A with Malek Jandali

The founder and CEO of Pianos for Peace spoke about the first year of the initiative – and what’s to come.

Q: What was the impetus for Pianos for Peace?
A: As a composer and pianist, I have had the privilege of traveling all over the world to share my music, and I have seen firsthand the transformative power of music and how it can bring communities together, encourage children’s creativity and act as a bridge of peace between people. I wanted to bring that to our Atlanta communities, especially at a time when music and arts programs are being cut from schools. I truly believe that by making music and the arts accessible to all, we can transform communities and make a positive impact on children’s futures and honor our motto of “building peace through music and education.”

Q: What’s been the impact of Pianos for Peace since it started?
A: In collaboration with our partners and ambassadors for peace such as Hartsfield-Jackson (the busiest airport in the world), The King Center, MARTA, The Rialto, Atlanta Beltline and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, we have impacted more than 2 million Atlantans and visitors. In addition, we estimate that we will be able to reach approximately 500,000 more people through our yearlong programs that engage local musicians to perform on the donated pianos in their new permanent homes.

Q: This year, the pianos are in 29 locations throughout metro Atlanta. What’s in store for next year?
A: 2016 was the first annual Pianos for Peace Festival, and we are so proud to have had partnerships with these 29 partners and ambassadors for peace — such an amazing accomplishment for our hard-working team of volunteers and board members. We are already planning for next year’s festival and with the support of the community, look forward to having 50 pianos across metro Atlanta that anyone and everyone can enjoy!

Q: When you learned that the world’s busiest airport wanted to participate in the program, what were your thoughts?
A: Of course, the board of directors and I were thrilled to have the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson, join efforts with us as an ambassador for peace. The exposure and impact that our Pianos for Peace have had in the Airport is tremendous — we get emails on a daily basis from travelers all over the world who saw the pianos at the Airport and were encouraged to use their talents to spread peace in their own communities. That is so rewarding. We look forward to a continued, long-term relationship with Hartsfield-Jackson in the coming years.

Q: I understand two pianos are being donated to two of our Partner in Education schools. Tell me about that.
A: Yes! When Hartsfield-Jackson suggested donating two of our Pianos for Peace to Tri-Cities High School and James A. Jackson Elementary School, we were glad to make sure that these deserving schools received pianos. The donated Pianos for Peace have been delivered, and we are already planning workshops and concerts to engage the students, teachers and staff. This is exactly in alignment with our motto of Building Peace through Music and Education, and we are thrilled that two of Hartsfield-Jackson’s Partner in Education Schools received our Pianos for Peace. We can’t wait to see what the students do on their new pianos.

Q: What do you hope for Pianos for Peace moving forward?
A: We hope to continue with our mission of making the arts accessible to all. Our goal is to be the largest public arts display in the city, bringing communities together through music with the largest symphony being played in the streets of Atlanta on 50-plus pianos. Our annual Pianos for Peace Gala will be held on Feb. 22, 2017, at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and we invite everyone to join us and support our goal of building peace through music and education.

This was one of two Pianos for Peace available for anyone to play in September at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

This was one of two Pianos for Peace available for anyone to play in September at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.



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