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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats."
Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, since 2007. All written content © 2014 by Paul Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Piano In the Park

The piano in City Hall Park. Photo by Becca Dorstek


Any New Yorker can become a sidewalk musician for the next month, thanks to Play Me, I'm Yours. The art project by Luke Jerram is a collaboration with Sing for Hope, a charitable organization, and the New York City Parks Department. Sixty pianos, strategically scattered across the five boroughs are available for playing from 9am until 10 at night, by anyone who walks up and sits down.

The pianos, donated for the project have been colorfully painted and decorated by a roster of local artists. Each comes equipped with:
  • a small Ikea stool.
  • Some sheet music
  • A clear set of rules.
  • A plastic tarp in case of inclement weather.
There is a ten-minute limit per performer if there is a line.


I got to play one of them tonight, as dusk settled over City Hall Park. It was a colorful, rainbow-bedecked old upright painted in a swirl of psychedelic yellow and orange. Sheet music was provided: in this case Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano" and Beethoven's Für Elise.

Not being much of a sight-reader, (I read music but lack the coordination to play at sight) I opted for the one thing I do know how to play. That's the Ode to Joy theme from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which I picked out on my first electronic keyboard when I was maybe 10 years old. As I figured out the notes in a couple of keys (OK, C and F Major), I added some simple left-hand chords so it wouldn't sound too thin.

As I played, I felt what Mr. Jerram may have intended: a deep sense of personal satisfaction in my own poor ability. Not to mention that I had something to write about other than vuvuzelas.

The piano project will remain on the streets of New York until july 5th, 2010, when the instruments will be donated.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.