Archive for the ‘music’ Category
Eleven months ago CJ and I launched the plans for my 40th Birthday celebration at the stylish, Mid-Century resort: The Century Palm Springs. Taking our favorite band’s festive inspiration, and our plans to imbibe cocktails aplenty, we named the weekend “Pink Martini-Land!”
Fast forwarding to one week before our departure, CJ made the very happy discovery on facebook of the Pink Martini music video contest. When I saw that “Ohayoo Ohio” (“Hello Ohio”) was one of the options, it was clearly kismet (I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio). The stars had aligned, and we heeded their creative calling!
We hope you have even half as much fun as we did creating it! And now, we cross our fingers and hope that the judges get swept up into our world of muumuu runway shows, gleeful synchronized swimming, swingin’ faux percussion, “Mrs. Groper” (CJ as a baked Mrs. Roper-type) and more!
Thanks (again) to Vinyl Divas, I discovered the singer “Gohar Gasparyan.” I youtubed her, simply because her name was so eccentric, and her mug not exactly the prettiest. I immediately smelled a camp classic discovery. Well, I was both wrong, and right. Turns out, she was very lovingly considered “The Armenian Nightingale.” It struck me that each country or culture seems to have their diva…the one considered to be the greatest, and to inspire and somehow embody the spirit of the nation.
Here’s a look at some of the biggies. Some of these names immediately came to mind, but a few took a little more digging. Some are genuine classics, and a couple (ie: Gohar and Yma) have one foot firmly (if unintentionally) in camp. One of the qualifications of a true diva is a title, nickname, or single name (ala Cher), as most all of them prove. Pathos is a requirement, and often a tragic life and/or death the deal maker for that highest rung of fame in posterity. In some cases, an operatic diva reaches this highest level of mainstream public adoration, but only in those cases did I include them here. Of course, the diva phenom and the gay sensibility are inextricably linked, and although that is surely part of my own inspiration, it is not the focus here.
Gohar Gasparyan (’24 – ’07): “The Armenian Nightingale”
“In ’48, she migrated to Soviet Armenia, along with hundreds of thousands of other Armenians from the Middle East.” Upon her death, she was billed “The greatest master of the Armenian Opera Theater, the People’s Artist of the USSR, the hero of the Social Labor, the National Artist of Armenia, the Mesrop Mashtots order-bearer, and the professor of the Yerevan State Konservatory after Komitas.” In her prime, she displayed beautiful control and range:
This video of “O beau pays“ from Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots shows she had the chops, but no technical or interpretive greatness in western opera to qualify her as a true operatic legend outside of Armenian rep. She delivers priceless camp at 7:05, with a shameless peekaboo that will have you rolling! As with all true divas, she was still worshipped in her later years, when her voice and body were in decline, because her heart and expressivity were at their most potent (the accidental whistle on her “sh” consonants is precious).
I just discovered a colleague’s very stylish blog, and was inspired by her post asking “What Defines You?,” and her subsequent personal list. As a bit of a Top 10 List addict, I was fast on my way to rounding up my own. I’ve left jcm off the list, as it’s eminently clear that this blog defines me, but that’s just too easy, eh? Here they flow, in random order:
My 7th Birthday Photo
This photo (May ’77, Cincy, OH) conjures up the warm, sentimental feelings of uncomplicated youth, and a loving connection with my family. Although my folks aren’t pictured here, their nurturing presence is all around (and on the other side of the camera). The Winnie the Pooh cake was likely by my special request. I love the retro feel of the old square prints, with rounded corners.
There is a simplicity to my memories of childhood, and of these such moments…no crowded party, or branded birthday theme (seemingly requisite these days), just closeness and joy. I’m so thankful to have the foundation that my upbringing provided me. Funnily enough, CJ has a photo that is almost exactly the same (parallel lives?). Now, just two months from my 40th bday, I suppose I’m a bona fide “adult”!?
“Peristeriona” Ceramic Vase
This vase holds all the memories of CJ’s and my beautiful around-the-world journey together…Hong Kong to Greece to Senegal. It was something I had dreamt of doing for decades, while I racked up frequent flyer miles!
We purchased this in a charming little shop on Sifnos, an authentic, less touristy Greek Island option that we both long to return to one day. The yellow and black colors call to mind the brilliant glow of the sun, and the contrasting shadows, on the traditional white structures and breezy hillsides.
CJ and I have the gift of travelling very well together, and our time on this island was one of our most special yet…divine food, a white-knuckle scooter ride through the hills, and lots of R&R by the sea.
There’s been SO much press and discussion about Johnny’s “STARS On Ice” exclusion, and of him wanting to produce his own alternative show, complete with his Lady Gaga. I didn’t trust that any producer could get this off the ground as a tour…MAYBE as a one-time tv special (Johnny, please prove me wrong!). So, with my wildest fantasies sparked, I took the bull by the horns, and dreamt up something truly “family friendly” (nudge nudge, wink wink): “GAY STARS On Ice & Friends!” Instead of creating an entirely new name, it’s a more effective rubbing-in-the-face to alter it slightly…and “RAINBOWS On Ice” just doesn’t have any ring to it.
Some would argue that “STARS On Ice” IS essentially “GAY STARS On Ice…” already, in everything but name. However, the reaction to Johnny’s request for inclusion has clued us into the fact that this is not the case, at least as per some of the mainstream target audience. No, surprisingly, Johnny hasn’t verbally “come out,” but he upholds “gay” where it counts, and I, and gay kids everywhere applaud him for that.
My concept is for an independent skating show that would travel to only the hippest urban spots, aka the biggest gay cities: SF, NY, LA, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Dallas, Miami, etc. Oh, and the top-billing sponsor (ala Smuckers) goes to the maker of Twinkies® and Ho-Hos®…not to mention Sno Balls®! Yes, that’s “Hostess’ GAY Stars on Ice!”
The programs and performances would tip the scales in favor of the campy, flamboyant, and festive. BUT, there would be plenty of true, heartfelt gravitas as well, with a strong nod to high-classical repertoire (ie: from full-length ballet, and opera). It would honor and encourage the young aesthetic and spirit, AND the old gays.
What would be forbidden? Typical Pro/EX-skating fare: cheesy-sexy-faker rock (ala Michael Weiss, Josef Sabovcik, and just about any American pair’s EX), alpha-male, testosterone-filled movie soundtracks (ala Eldredge), karate-inspired numbers (ala Stojko), vanilla hip-hop (ala Belbin & Agosto, and Evan Lysacek), and so on. Basically, all the stuff that makes me yawn and avoid most Pro shows altogether these days.
What makes something “gay“ (besides the skater)? In short…1) a triumphant rising-from-the-ashes return of a diva (see Bobek and Harding); 2) male face makeup and glitter (ie: Johnny doing Gaga); 3) pride anthems (see Sandhu and Sawyer’s programs); 4) a nod to the older gay generation(s), who paved the way and, yes, we know, had it much harder (see Cranston); 5) plenty of pop and opera diva icons; and all this:
Program (Act I)
Vogue — Complete Cast
If You Were Gay (from Avenue Q) – Brian Boitano & Brian Orser
One (LIVE, by Adam Lambert) – Denise Biellmann
Bad Romance (LIVE, by Lady Gaga) – Johnny Weir
It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green (by Kermit) – Rudy Galindo
Guess Who I Saw Today (by Nancy Wilson, AMAZING video!) – Weir, Gregory
You Gotta Have a Gimmick (from Gypsy) – Tonya Harding
Sag Mir Wo die Blumen Sind (Where Have All the Flowers Gone?) (Marlene Dietrich) – Katarina Witt
Sisters (from White Christmas) – Stéphane Lambiel & Rudy Galindo (featuring a throw triple axel)
Act II: Le Lac Des Cygnes (from Swan Lake) – ALL the boys in tutus (ala Les Ballets du Trockadero)
Opera in the Park: Redux
Just when the dust began to settle on the DIVA Totem Pole, the 2002 SF Opera in the Park rolled around. Knowing the bar was high, and wanting to make it even more fun for friends, I took a different strategy: interactivity!
I sourced the most iconic and expressive diva portraits I could get my hands on to create quickie cut-out masks. They had to be high-resolution enough to print out cleanly at actual size. This was during my heyday of designing the SF Ballet Nutcracker collateral. I had just used a similar mask idea for their direct mail brochure, with many of the characters from their production (but with eye holes, rather than mouth holes).
The Divas & Divo
I dug up hot shots of Birgit Nilsson’s icy Met Turandot (complete with one ton bejeweled crown), Regina Resnik’s tragic Klytemnestra, and June Anderson mugging in a photoshoot. But, I branched out a bit too, including Wagnerian basso Hagen (with imposing helmet, singer unknown), as well as two popular divas: 1960′s “Color Me…” Barbra, and AI Kelly “Moments Like This” Clarkson.
The pictures make me laugh out loud every time I rediscover them. The lips look positively labial. I reigned over the proceedings here as Turandot. A Streisand fanatic friend immediately got his paws on Babs (and even did her mannered hands, see above). My friends brought these TO LIFE!
As I sign off for now, I share with you Nilsson singing Turandot’s ruthless aria “In Questa Reggia” (and lookin’ like buttah) at Arena Macerata in ’71, for some bonus dementia!
In the quieter, darker, colder days of January, in addition to looking ahead to what the year will bring, and setting goals, it’s always especially nice to reflect back on the previous year, to recall and relive some of its finest moments. So, it is in that spirit that I share my Top 10 LIVE Performances List for the year.
1. Hair on Broadway (8/2): I’ve certainly said enough about this love-rock musical on my blog in the past 6 months, but for good reason. Attending the acclaimed Broadway production with CJ and some dear friends was deeply moving, and a wonderful way to further launch me into my ACLO production. Although the singing style was more “pop” than I’d like (relative to the original productions), when seeing it live, any stylistic qualms fell away, and the raw honesty of the production swept me away. Steel Burkhardt was a surprisingly good understudy for Will Swenson, as Berger.
2. Heidi Melton Recitals: (2/4) Her Salon at the Rex featured Purcell, Berg, Messiaen, Debussy, and Bolcom; (10/20) Her LIEDER ALIVE! recital second half at the SF Conservatory featured Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder. Now in Berlin preparing for her Deutsche Oper Berlin debut, and just off her Met debut in Elektra, she thankfully gave San Francisco two satisfying recitals before her departure. The first was very casual in spirit, much like the salons of old, I imagine…a great artist sidled up to the piano, friends and fans with cocktails in hand, and the artist just telling stories, in words and song. Perfect! The second prooved her Wagnerian chops in the demanding Wesendonck.
3. The Cockettes’ Pearls Over Shanghai (8/15): Straight from The Cockettes’ closet and into The Thrillpeddlers’ Hypnodrome…this irresistable tale is told in glitter, technicolor, pasties, and skin, with raw, campy delivery, and a bawdy flavor. I am happy to now be a part of this production, its first revival since its creation in the late ’60s. John Waters just graced our audience. Don’t miss it!
5. Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment at SF Opera (10/22): This Pelly production is an example of a fresh take on an opera that enhances a classic, not apologizes for or covers it up. Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Florez struck the perfect balance of bel canto purity and knee-slapping hijinx. It was genuinely funny throughout…true laughter spilled forth from the audience, not just the polite opera-laughter one is accustomed to. Meredith Arwady’s turn as The Marquise de Berkenfeld was beyond her years in comedic timing, and positively ebullient.
6. Next to Normal on Broadway (8/2): Like really good therapy…onstage. Vocal chops for days from all 6 performers. Alice Ripley may be crazy, but she’s perfect in this role, and the show lives up to its buzz.
7. Verdi’s Requiem at SF Opera (5/29): This was a moving farewell for Donald Runnicles. Heidi Melton and Stephanie Blythe melded beautifully. Melton stepped in last minute for an ailing Patricia Racette. The performance just crackled with emotion and commitment. And, how special to experience a sacred choral masterwork in our opera house!
8. Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess at SF Opera (6/12): To finally hear this score performed live in its original operatic context was a true thrill, especially after growing so fond of pop and jazz renditions for decades. Laquita Mitchell and Eric Owens lovingly gave 120%.
9. Rossini’s Semiramide at Caramoor (7/31): In this case especially, it’s hard to separate memories of the setting and journey from the performance itself, but the warm summer air, cultivated audience, and Queer Opera Punk friends in tow helped make it very memorable. It starred bel canto masters Angela Meade, Vivica Genaux, Lawrence Brownlee, and Daniel Mobbs. And, how lovely to discover my old choir friend Heather Meyer in the chorale!
10. Paul Taylor Dance Company at YBCA (5/2): This Program C included Arden Court, (Music by William Boyce: Symphonic Excerpts), Private Domain (Music by Iannis Xenakis: Atrees), and Offenbach Overtures (including La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein and Berbe-Bleue Overtures). Unfortunately, this year held few dance performances for me, but, at least included this one! CJ’s high school acquaintance Rob Kleinendorst is a long-time company member. The Offenbach was absolutely hysterical, not the sort of tone I expected from the company. A real fresh surprise! Last time I saw their tour, I was floored by their dramatic, apocalyptic Promethian Fire. Although not intentional, it felt like a 9/11 tribute. Well, this Offenbach couldn’t be more different, and shows their breadth.
Honorable Mentions: South Pacific Tour, GG Theatre, SF; American Idiot, Berkeley Rep (World Premiere, and Broadway-bound); Kylie Minogue concert, Fox Theatre, Oakland, CA; Pink Martini in concert, Davies Symphony Hall, SF; Souvenir, with Judy Kaye and Donald Corren, Geary Theatre, SF; SF Opera Auditions for the General Director (David Gockley) highlights: Michael Sumuel’s “O! Du mein holder Abendstern”, Ryan Belongie’s “Cara Sposa” and Nathaniel Peake’s “Salut demeure chaste et pure” and “Ah! lève-toi soleil!”.
Overrated/Yawners: In the Next Room: The Vibrator Play, Berkeley Rep (now on Broadway?! I fell asleep.); Billy Elliot on Broadway (some great moments and some great dancing do not a great musical make).
Looking for some fresh (if not new) Christmas/Holiday/Winter music to add to your annual listening tradition? I know, nobody really buys or listens to “albums” anymore, with our iTunes-driven music world being so song-centric. Well, that may be true most of the time, but at Christmastime I’m still quite album-centric, since I prefer to pack my cds away with the decorations, and essentially rediscover them each year.
Plenty of the mainstream classics are among my annual favs too, including those by John Denver & The Muppets, Vince Guaraldi, The Carpenters, Leontyne Price, and Mariah Carey. BUT, it’s a relief to have less touted treasures to lean on, especially when the classics are getting overplayed…like right about now! Please weigh in on your own rarer holiday favorites.
“Images de Noël”: Karina Gauvin (’99)
A phenomenal, underrated crystalline soprano, who specializes in baroque repertoire. Here, she offers spirited renditions of holiday-themed art songs.
“The Christmas Album: Original Masters”: Various Artists (’03)
Vintage German/Austrian favorites, originally recorded from ’52 to ’70. Includes greats Gundula Janowitz, Fritz Wunderlich and Hermann Prey. You’ll feel like you’re having a Christmas in Salzburg! The retro graphics are charming too.
“Carols From the Old and New Worlds”: Theatre of Voices (’93)
I first experienced this album thanks to my old voice teacher, who was a member of Theatre of Voices at the time of this recording. It features TIGHT harmonies that feel authentically old world, but still fresh.
“A Cold December Night”: Erin Bode (’08)
This album offers perfect winter simplicity, delivered in Bode’s gentle spirit.
“Classic Christmas”: Billy Gilman (’00)
This is easily my most fun and cheerful Christmas album…it’ll make you feel a bit more like a kid again.
“The Hotel Café Presents: Winter Songs”: Various Artists (’08)
A great compilation of atmospheric, moody contemporary performances, including many originals. Tracks 1, 7, 11, and 15 are favs.
“Christmas Means Love”: Joan Osborne (’95)
Originally released by Barnes & Nobles, this album didn’t get wide enough distribution. You’ve gotta listen to “What Do Bad Girls Get?”. Her inspired pipes are showcased throughout!
“Have Yourself A Jazzy Little Christmas”: Various Artists (’89)
There is NO better jazz compilation than this. All tracks are mid-century recordings, performed by jazz greats. Originally given to me as a gift, it has become a necessary annual tradition for me! Truly perfect!
“An Oscar Peterson Christmas”: Oscar Peterson (’95)
Tired of Guaraldi, but you like the whole jazzy Christmas thang? This is another great option.
“Hymns Carols and Songs Sbout Snow”: Tuck Andress (’91)
Of Tuck & Patti fame, Andress offers up some gentle renditions of the classics.
“Christmas Disco”: The Mistletoe Disco Band (’78)
Wanna shake things up a bit (literally!)? I grew up on this album, and was SO obsessed with the girl on the cover (or, was it her outfit?)! This is some of THE finest Christmas cheese, and the periodic sexy back-up singers are priceless.
“The Bells of Dublin”: The Chieftains (’91)
I’m honestly not sure how many or few have this album, but I’ve never heard it get any play on the radio, nor heard a friend reference it. So, I’m going to assume it’s not as well known as it should be. Do some vicarious travel to Ireland, thanks to this cd.
So, pour a glass of egg nog, nestle under your most comfy blanket (with a loved one, pet or just yourself), and enjoy some less “played” tunage!
One Big Hairy Family
There are a few musicals that participation in really welcomes you into a national family of cast alums…for life. Back when I did West Side Story at Broadway By the Bay, I remember getting excited about The Official WSS Website, which had a comprehensive register for all productions and performers internationally. Well, that only scratched the surface…
I just had the pleasure of experiencing my first real taste of this larger sense of community thanks to “West Fest”, the 40th Anniversary celebration of Woodstock, a free concert in Golden Gate Park. Today, for the closing act on the West Stage, 23 members from different national casts of Hair performed “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)”, and “We Are the World”. Enjoy more event details and posters here.
Since Berger doesn’t sing any of the solo verses in “The Flesh Failures” in the stage version, I was especially moved to be offered some of Claude’s passionate opening lines here. And, in “We Are the World”, was slightly amused to get the solos sung by the indisputable King (and a recent media Queen) of weed, Willie Nelson and Dionne Warwick! (I did not attempt a Willie impersonation.) Well, long-story-short, we ended up singing both pieces as group numbers, due to a producer’s misjudgment (a kind understatement!). But, that’s what hippie life is all about, after all…COMMUNITY! We clasped hands, stood arm-in-arm, and sang as one, from our hearts. The audience cheered us on, and fervently sang along, showing their shared love for Hair, and for the unifying message behind our second song.
Our new tribe came in from as far as New York, and as close as the Inner Richmond, SF (me). It included original cast members from NY, LA, Chicago, and Seattle. What an inspiration! Here are portraits of participants Walter Michael Harris, THE Walter from the Original Broadway production (at the tender age of 16!), and David “Pappy” Hunt, as Hud, from the same production.
And, here is Susan Morse (left) singing “Black Boys”, in Circus Magazine, ’69.
Hippie Life in Golden Gate Park
Never have I seen such a smorgasbord of homemade brownies, baklava, and other baked goods , all around Speedway Meadows. Jefferson Starship offered up a great set midday. Their current lead singer, Cathy Richardson has CRAZY chops! I was mighty impressed. (Initially, when I first rounded the corner and realized it was J.S. performing, I thought, Grace must have gotten some serious vocal rest!)
It was an honor to take part in this celebration of both Woodstock and Hair. Little did I know my own Berger costume would get more mileage so soon. And, I had a hell of a good time hangin’ with our lovely and insanely talented cast — at rehearsal, the event booth, backstage (in the performer kasbah tent), and onstage. We hung our tribe photos and exchanged stories at the booth. I look forward to our next gathering or gig. Special thanks must go to Pappy, Walter, Jenny, Barbara, Kevin, Rana, and Tadg!
The stars seemed to align yet again when Walter Harris shared that his brother George was Hibiscus, the founder of The Cockettes. I was especially thrilled to discover this, since I’m enamored with the Thrillpeddler’s current production of The Cockette’s “Pearls Over Shanghai”, which my friends Valentine and Leanne Borghesi are in (Leanne also served as Associate Director). George Harris “was also the young man in the turtleneck sweater in the famous picture of the anti-war protester putting flowers into the gun barrels of the MPs during the October 21, 1967 march on the Pentagon.” (Wikipedia) This act must have inspired the same gesture, by Claude, in the current Broadway production.
Let the sunshine in!
HAIR West Fest, 2009 Cast:
Walter Michael Harris (Music Director): Original Walter (“What a Piece of Work is Man”, Original Broadway Recording), Biltmore Theatre, NY, ‘68
Jenny Lee Ho (Choreographer): Crissy, Original SF, Geary & Orpheum Theatres, ‘69-‘70; National Dance Director, ‘70-‘71
David “Pappy” Hunt (Organizer): Hud, Original Broadway, ‘69; Original LA, ‘68
Tabitha Gaffney: Tribe (Koya Huye), Mountain Play, Mt. Tam, CA, ‘07
Tadg Galleran: “Don’t Put It Down”, Original Broadway; Original LA, ‘69-‘71
Janis Jobs: Jeanie, Miami, ‘70; Tribe, Seattle, ‘70
Rana Kangas-Kent (Hospitality): Jeanie (Koya Huye Tribe), Mountain Play, Mt. Tam, CA, ‘07
Jessica Marciel: Crissy (Jeanie understudy), Original LA, ‘69-‘71
Kevin Mason (Web Designer & Photographer): Woof, Margaret Mead, Walter, (Claude understudy), Original Seattle & Miami, ‘69, and Original Tour, ‘70; Over 500 performances!
Barbara Moore (Coordinator): NY Workshop (“Light Up Cross” Creator), ‘66; Original LA, ‘68-‘69
Susan Morse: Sheila (+“Electric Blues”), Original LA, ‘69; Tribe, Original Broadway, ‘69; “disinHAIRited” Cast Recording, ‘69
Alariza Nevarez: [Ozzy Osbourne, in "Zombies! The Musical", Exit Theater, SF, current]
Richard Osorio: General Manager, Original Broadway, ‘68; Original LA, ‘68; Las Vegas, ‘69; Tours
Helen Pollock: Crissy, Original Chicago, ‘69, and Original LA
John Quinn: Tribe (Koya Huye), Mountain Play, Mt. Tam, CA, ‘07
Cara Robin: Original Broadway Production Coordinator, and Second Casting Director, ‘68; Tribe, Original SF & Boston, ‘68-‘69; “disinHAIRited” Cast Recording, ‘69
Maggie Velasquez: “White Boys” (Muwekma Tribe), Stagelight Productions, San Jose, ‘07
Zia Wesley: Tribe, Original SF, ‘69; Original LA, ‘70 (stage name: Rhoda Seven)
Yvette Williams: Tribe, Original Chicago, ‘71; Crissy, Tour; Bus ‘n Truck, LA, ‘72-‘73
Michelle Wynn: Sheila (Muwekma Tribe), Stagelight Productions, San Jose, ‘07
Paul Ziller: Berger (Ramaytush Tribe), ACLO, Alameda, CA, ‘09
, Original SF, ‘69; Original LA, ‘70
(Cast, if you have any edits to this list, feel free to email me, or post in “Leave a Comment”!)
(No, contrary to this title, this is not a post about Janet Jackson’s ‘92 hit.)
I have since discovered that in the blogosphere this is hardly news, but as we sat on our couch, and watched one of our weekly favs, CBS Sunday Morning, it was news to us. I was quickly swept away by the warm, fuzzy possibilities of it…a vision of society rapt in mutual love and celebration. It was as if the participating cities were joining together in one big Coke-like I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing “Be-In”. Being an idealist, this is just the sort of thing that tickles my fancy (or ivories…read on).
San Francisco had hearts, Cincinnati pigs, and Chicago cows. I have always supported and been drawn to these sorts of large scale, outdoor, public art exhibits…but this takes the cake! Leave it to the Brits to show us up, and come up with the winningest idea.
Introducing: “Play Me, I’m Yours”, a pretty radical idea…one part interactive art, one part sociology study, in the form of a fleet of street pianos. I’ll let the well phrased deets (in quotes) from the website speak for themselves.:
“Street pianos are appearing in cities across the world. Located in skate parks, industrial estates, laundrettes, precincts, bus shelters and train stations, outside pubs and football grounds, the pianos are for any member of the public to enjoy and claim ownership of. Who plays them and how long they remain is up to each community.”
“The pianos act as sculptural, musical, blank canvases that become a reflection of the communities they are embedded into. Many pianos are personalised and decorated. Questioning the ownership and rules of public space ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ is a provocation, inviting the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment.”
It’s no surprise that placing a free-to-use musical instrument smack dab in the middle of a busy civic setting is a welcome gift that can be a balm to soothe (or annoy the periodic grump), a spark to connect, or even just a momentary diversion to amuse. It all depends on the musical offering of the player…the receptiveness of (a) likely passer(s)-by…and the mingling of their two or more spirits! Or, a lone player on an empty street can enjoy a rare stolen moment.
“The first pianos appeared in March 2008 when 15 pianos were placed into the streets of Birmingham, UK.”
More recent sites have included Sao Paolo (’08), Sydney (’09), Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk, England: ’09)…and currently London (check out the piano map)!
It is an arts project by Luke Jerram, a self-described “colour blind installation artist, who fuses his artistic sculptural practice with his scientific and perceptual studies.”
Lighting London on Fire: More Proof
I now leave you with this classic, which Londoners rightfully own.:
Hopefully the next stop will be SF, so we can all gather ‘round and sing “Go West”, by the Village People. What song, in your current hometown would you most want to hear/play/sing-along with on a street piano?