Helvetic.LA

LA's virtual Swiss neighborhood!

#StreetPiano Project Reaches #LA via Geneva

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We’d like to welcome guest blogger, Ms. Imogen Reed – featuring a story about the amazingly fascinating “Play Me, I’m Yours” Art & Music project, which currently delights Angelenos and visitors alike!

Thank You for your contribution, Imogen!
M:)
 

Street Piano Project Reaches LA via Geneva

There is a meeting place where Geneva meets Los Angeles and art meets music. If you didn’t catch the ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ artwork in Geneva and haven’t yet caught up with it in LA you may well be wondering what kind of a junction that could possibly be and how to get there. Read on…

Luke Jerram is a British artist. His art project began touring four years ago and has since touched two million people. As you read this, the number of participants is rising by the minute, not to mention the numbers of works or keys played. The work involves pianos and the project has 30 in LA at the moment. Local communities were invited to customize the pianos and passersby are now invited to ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’, a slogan that is written on each and every one of them.

Jouez, Je Suis A Vous

Just last June it was ‘Jouez, Je Suis A Vous’, when twenty pianos were placed around Geneva as part of the Fete de la Musique. They were placed by the lake, the Floral Clock, the Grand Theatre and in parks and squares throughout the city. Each piano has its own blog where content can be shared. The Geneva pages show a city genuinely pleased by the event. Many seemed to be adults who could play well but just hadn’t for some time. Suddenly they had time and the opportunity. Pedestrians were enchanted, stopped passing and stopped to sit down and listen.

One child played as a tram went by. A gifted man played to perfection by the lake as a boats went by. Passengers in taxis, tourists in carhire vehicles as well as local residents and cyclists looked on. Sometimes there was singing or other instruments joined in. Some chose fast catchy jazz pieces, some chose slow, moving classical works. People stopped to see what was going on, listened and joined in. That was Jerram’s intention. To provide a focal point around which communities would gather with the pianos becoming “a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space”.

It worked. The project has been so successful that it has now travelled to 22 locations; many are in the UK but also include Brazil, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain and locations in Australia and the US.

Play LA

Did you play in Geneva? Get yourself to one of the thirty pianos in LA and play again. They are located in a number of downtown locations, including two at Bunker Hill, one in Chinatown, one at LA Live and one in Union Square. Then there are a number spread throughout the rest of the city and you can find out where your nearest one is on http://streetpianos.com/la2012/

Thirty pianists opened the event on 12 April by simultaneously playing the first prelude from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Then they handed them over to the public for its three-week turn. There is a free event ‘Love Letters to LA’ on 26 April at the piano situated at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, where local artists will chose and perform a song that represents Los Angeles to them, unplugged.

So where does the art come in? Is this not a music project? The project has brought about an interesting fusion. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra that has brought the project to LA has been busy commissioning organizations, individuals and designers to customize the pianos with their artwork. One piano by muralist Kent Twitchell marks Jeffrey Kahane’s fifteen years with the LA Chamber Orchestra, another bears mermaids and mountains by local artist Raoul de la Sota, another is colourfully decorated by an arts project that works to try to prevent students from dropping out of high school and another was decorated by the Braille Institute. The very preparation of the pianos called upon communities to work together and it is this that has excited Jerram about the brevity of the LA event.

Besides, it is the effect of the project that matters, not quibbling over categories. Public art plays a vital role in cities, whether it is the Jet d’Eau in Geneva or the letters of Hollywood in LA. So maybe you can’t play for toffee but fancy a go, or maybe you have been playing for years? Maybe you can think of something to play then post on the website that will put the Angeleno-Swiss community on the Street piano map? Get down there, join in. Enjoy!

Written by M:)

April 30, 2012 at 9:04 am

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