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Bringing Music to the Streets PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 12 April 2012 03:18

30 Pianos Appear Throughout Los Angeles Inviting Passerbys to Play Them


Starting April 12, 30 brightly painted pianos with different motifs will appear at different locations across Los Angeles County as part of a publicity campaign and art exhibit by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.


Starting April 12, 30 brightly painted pianos with different motifs will appear at different locations across Los Angeles County as part of a publicity campaign and art exhibit by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Don't be surprised when you find a brightly painted piano sitting outdoors at Plaza del Valle in Panorama City or in front of the El Portal Theater in the North Hollywood Arts District, and are encouraged to play them.

The pianos, all vividly colored with different motifs, are part of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's (LACO) "Play Me, I'm Yours" campaign that has placed 30 pianos beginning today April 12, throughout Los Angeles County as a way to take "music to the masses."

"We definitely wanted to make sure the project reflected Los Angeles County and all of its diversity," said Rachel Fine, LACO's executive director. "We wanted the pianos in the areas where the orchestra performs.

"We also picked iconic Los Angeles areas, like the Egyptian Theater and the Santa Monica Pier. Access was also a big part of the project. We want anyone and everyone to have access to play them," said Fine.

And play them is exactly the purpose of the project that runs from April 12 to May 3.

"I hope (the reaction from people) is one of inspiration and spontaneous music play," said Fine.

The idea for the art installation came from British artist Luke Jerram, and features 30 pianos painted by local artists both well and lesser-known, placed in high-traffic public neighborhoods across the Southland to bring spontaneous music and creativity to Angelenos who can play pianos 24/7 for three weeks.

Some of the artists who painted the pianos include famed muralist Kent Twitchell, Chicano art movement leader Frank Romero, Colombian American artist Frank Cubillos, and Chinese Calligrapher Peizhi Yu with son Qian.

The Hollywood Piano Company arranged for all the pianos in the exhibit to be donated by individuals. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra invited visual artists to paint the pianos, and community organizations to decorate them and act as site hosts.

"It's a great pleasure to work with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to present my art project. This is by far the most ambitious presentation of the installation to date. I hope the public enjoys the project and takes advantage of the opportunity to perform, express themselves and go out and play," stated Jerram in a press release.

The project is the culmination of LACO's season-long celebration of acclaimed Music Director and pianist Jeffrey Kahane's 15th anniversary with the Orchestra. Kahane, a native Angeleno, is happy to share music with his community in this way, said Fine.

The exhibit also includes a website – – where anyone may upload videos and photos of themselves with the pianos.

In addition to Panorama City and North Hollywood, some of the other places where you can find the pianos include Union Station, Olvera Street and Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles. You can also find them at Rhino Records in Claremont and San Pedro's Warner Grand Theatre, to name a few.

This project has already traveled some 22 cities across the world, from New York to Sydney, Australia.

And, Fine said, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Music is something that everyone understands and shares. In some places, you get big choirs that come out and it turns into an outdoor performance space," she said.

The Orchestra has also arranged for "piano buddies" (volunteer caretakers) to oversee the care of each piano throughout the three-week period. Each piano is equipped with a plastic cover in case of rain, and the pianos will be tuned throughout the installation to ensure playability.

In fact, Fine said, a team of piano tuners will travel throughout the city making sure the instruments are in working order.

And they have also taken precautions against those who might want to take the music home.

"They're all rigged, so that should deter stealing and tampering," said Fine, who added that she hopes the community takes pride in having the pianos in their locations and take ownership of their protection.

She added those who have seen the pianos are pleasantly surprised.

"It's a total delight. It creates a lot of enthusiasm and excitement because they're all decorated by pretty amazing artists," she said. "They're all so beautiful, you're just blown away by them."

The exhibit is also a way to bring attention to the orchestra.

"This is our gift to the community, meant to bring humanity and beauty to people's lives. And it also serves to bring visibility to the orchestra. We think it's important to let people know about us and what we do," she said.

But ultimately, this gift is not meant to just be seen and admired. Unlike those at museums, you are encouraged to touch these pieces.

"What we want people to know is that the pianos are theirs to use and they should sit down and play them," Fine said.

For additional information about "Play Me I'm Yours" and where you can find the pianos, visit

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 April 2012 19:06