The reaction has been interesting, particularly in the city of a million piano lessons. Finally, students can put all those lessons to good use – and in public! What’s also striking in the various videos made over the past few months is that there are a lot of talented pianists in the city and it only gets better when they bring their friends to play violin or guitar or percussion.
Other programs have had dance versus piano battles and a 7-hour non-stop piano marathon. Events have been held at the new PMQ Art Centre on Hong Kong Island, out in the New Territories, in the middle of busy Kowloon street markets, all aiming to maximize the exposure of this joint art and music project.
Luke Jerram, who founded the project in Birmingham, England, in 2008, reacted to the comparative silence of the urban community. He noted that in his local laundrette, he saw the same people week after week and they never talked to each other. When he put a piano into the space, peoples’ interactions changed for the positive. People have met around the pianos and he takes credit for his piano project bringing the cause of more than one wedding!
It seems clear, from the looks on the faces of the listeners, to the delight of the players, that taking the piano out of the front room, out of the practice room, or out of the concert hall and making it accessible is a way to change peoples’ interaction with art, music, and, probably most importantly, each other.
Venues for 2016 include for Street Pianos will be Mesa, Arizona, and Florence, South Carolina, in the US, and, starting in March, in Singapore.