'Street pianos' take over London

Public art project gets underway around the capital
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If you’re walking along a London street in the next month and hear a piano, don’t be surprised. As part of a public music project 30 ‘street pianos’ are being placed in locations around the capital for passers-by to play.

The ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ scheme, conceived by artist Luke Jerram, is part of SingLondon and the City of London Festival. The pianos will be in place until 13 July, before being donated to local schools and community centres.

 

‘This is not about my ideas and ego it is about people’s creativity and an opportunity to express themselves,’ says the 34-year-old from Bristol in the Evening Standard. ‘It is a way to reach thousands and capture their imagination.’

The pianos are being installed in London locations ranging from Liverpool Street Station, St Paul’s churchyard and Paternoster Square to Carnaby Street, the British Library and the Tate Britain. Jerram has previously taken his travelling pianos to Sydney, São Paulo and Birmingham, where it’s estimated that over 140,000 people played the instruments during their three-week stay.

 

The current batch was bought on eBay for around £100 a piano. Each has been decorated by an artist, comes with its own songbook, will be regularly tuned and has been chained to a fence to ensure it stays put.

‘The pianos belong to the people of London, including the drunk ones,’ says Jerram. ‘The interesting thing is that you can’t tell how someone plays until they sit down. Some people play wonderfully, and a crowd will gather, while others are just awful.’