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Pianos in downtown parks

By Cathryn Wellner / July 3, 2015

Piano near the library

Festivals Kelowna is trying something new. This summer our small British Columbia city has five public pianos in the downtown core. Anyone can play them, and people do. The musicians range from those who have barely mastered Chopsticks to professional performers. Everyone is welcome.

Keystone Music found the instruments. The pianos were painted funky colors by the good folk at Disney Interactive. City of Kelowna staff attended to logistics.

The pianos were tuned, plastered with invitational signs, and placed in places where a lot of people walk by. One of them is by the Rotary Centre for the Arts. Another is on the walkway between there and the library. The third, fourth and fifth are below the blue bear in Stuart Park, near the Sails by Kerry Park, and in the tunnel by Hot Sands Beach.

Seattle has them. New York’s Sing for Hope makes pianos available in parks. Artist Luke Jerram’s Play Me, I’m Yours project has over 1,300 pianos in 46 cities around the world. Kelowna joins the experiment in bringing music to the masses.

Nearly every time I have walked by them, the pianos have been in use. People smile, stop to take photographs and videos, or try their hand at playing with an audience of strangers. Thanks, Festivals Kelowna, Keystone Music and the City of Kelowna. You’ve brightened summer street life for residents and visitors alike.

My favourite video doesn’t want to embed from Facebook. I’m not sure who caught it, but it was posted to the Pianos in Parks Facebook page and features my partner, Robin Jarman, and his twin David, who is visiting from Adelaide, South Australia. You should still be able to see it using this link or the one below:

I was lucky enough to stumble upon these two gentlemen playing a fun tune! #PianosInParks

Posted by Pianos in Parks on Friday, June 19, 2015

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