April 11, 2012
photo Sandra Chien
Tomorrow at noon across Los Angeles County 30 pianists sit down at 30 pianos and perform Prelude No.1 from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book One. A flash mob of sorts, the performance officially launches the Play Me, I’m Yours festival brought to Los Angeles and hosted by LACO with the participation of 30 site hosts across the county. LACO’s own Jeffrey Kahane participates in the launch at California Plaza in Downtown LA at a piano decorated by the Braille Institute of Los Angeles. This unique public arts project originated as the brain child of British artist Luke Jerram and has traveled around the world, with pianos in London, New York, Sydney and Barcelona. LACO proudly launches the first Los Angeles instillation of Play Me, I’m Yours which features 30 pianos throughout the county at sites such as Santa Monica Pier, Torrance Cultural Arts Center and City Hall in Downtown LA that are available 24/7 over three weeks for the public to enjoy, play, watch a performance and/or organize an outing.
Sounds interesting and like a lot of fun, right? But before you go out and find the piano nearest you at streetpianosLA.com, learn a little about how the project came to be.
Three weeks of art throughout Los Angeles is the product of over eight months of planning and contributions from a cadre of artists, LACO staff, funders and site hosts.
LACO conceived of the Los Angeles instillation of Play Me, I’m Yours as the perfect tribute to music director Jeffrey Kahane who celebrated 15 years with the Orchestra this season. The project expresses Kahane’s maxim that music belongs to everyone and its creation should be enjoyed by the general public in their communities, not just in the concert hall. In order to bring this idea to fruition the LACO team, helmed by director of advancement Lacey Huszca and project coordinator Sandra Chien, worked over eight months searching for pianos, looking for artists to decorate the pianos, coordinating site hosts for the pianos during the three week run and locating storage for the pianos while they were prepared for the outdoors.
Pianos were procured from across the county through the assistance of Hollywood Piano Company and requests for proposals from artists and site hosts were distributed. The project moved forward in earnest and LACO gained momentum to launch Play Me, I’m Yours. Once a LACO team selected the artists, among whom were muralist Kent Twitchell, Chicano artist Frank Romero, graffiti artist Man One and composer/pianist Timothy Andres, the pianos were distributed for decoration and started rolling back into the LACO offices for storage. Even the children of LACO’s musicians pitched in, decorating their own piano now located at Glendale Community College.
LACO’s staff had the unique privilege of being the first to care for, play and enjoy the pianos –- click here for a photo stream of all the pianos at the LACO offices waiting for their new homes and check out executive director Rachel Fine performing on the piano painted by Crossroads School which is now at the Santa Monica Pier.
While in storage, the pianos were tuned, and in some cases repaired – we even found an earring, fitted with cables to fix them to their locations and affixed with protective coverings for the rain. See below to watch a piano being tuned.
Soon the hulking instruments were ready to move to their site hosts across the county. Over three days this week the pianos left the building and were installed . . . and almost immediately people started to play!
It has proven quite to journey, bringing old pianos back to life for this special project. But every moment was worth the sheer joy as people stumbled across the pianos, sat down and started to play…or try to as these children did at Plaza del Valle.
Visit streetpianosLA.com to find the nearest piano to you and join LACO for the official launch tomorrow at noon. Or, coordinate your own outing…after all you should play them, they’re yours.