What’s that I hear, a piano? Scattered all over the public spaces of the world’s cities are elaborately decorated pianos, just sitting there waiting to be played. Let me back up for a second.
When my old house was new, back when dinosaurs walked the earth and the year was 1915, everybody had a piano. Or at least one in every 248 American families. Today it’s closer to one in every 9,000 American homes. We not only played the piano, we listened to it as the primary source of entertainment in the home. Times have changed, haven’t they?
If I look at my friends who fall into the “une femme d’un certain age” category, I can count on a few fingers those that don’t play. But sitting for an hour a day to practice piano after school is just not happening today for lots of reasons. Many an old upright is gathering dust in the parlor and piano distributorships are closing right and left, at least those that haven’t captured the electronic keyboard market.
Enter artist Luke Jerram. He’s been awfully busy these past few years relieving people of their old pianos and creating something quite magical really.
It’s called Play Me, I’m Yours!
The idea for Play Me, I’m Yours came from visiting my local launderette. I saw the same people there each weekend and yet no one talked to one another. I suddenly realised that within a city, there must be hundreds of these invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence. Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space.’
Luke Jerram, International artist and creator of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’
In a nutshell, cities arrange through Luke’s organization to place pianos in their public spaces. Local artists are commissioned to paint or otherwise festoon the piano and then the game is on.
The reception has been tremendous. Young and old, timid and bold, it doesn’t matter. People are sitting down and tinkling the ivories all over this world. And the music is just incredible.
Have a listen:
And of course Paris. Who knows whether this man is French or not. But here he sits in Paris joyfully playing “Rhapsody in Blue,” the iconic soundtrack of New York City written by one Jacob Gershovitz, the son of Russian Jews. We know him better as George Gershwin.
Can art save us? I don’t know but it gives me hope.
Thanks for reading,