London Puts 30 Pianos On The Street For People To Play

Luke Jerram is the artist behind this “interactive art project”:

The pianos, which are secured to the ground with metal cables and have plastic covers in case of rain, have proved a huge hit. All of them are still there — outside the Natural History Museum, on Portobello Road, in Leicester Square and in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral, among other spots. None has been vandalized. People have tended to relinquish their places courteously after a while to allow others to perform.

A piano tuner who travels around on a bicycle, providing on-the-spot help, has had to bring in reinforcements to deal with all the wear and tear.

Best of all, Londoners have resoundingly disproved the stereotype that they are genetically incapable of spontaneous acts of public exuberance. Professionals and beginners; exhibitionists and their impromptu groupies; players of every aptitude from highly gifted to virtually talentless — all have tried their hand at the pianos. (Highlights, including a pianist dressed as Mozart, a 9-year-old boy playing Chopin and the musical comedy duo Katzenjammer playing on 24 of the pianos in eight hours, are available at streetpianos.com/london2009.)

“They’re like buses,” he said of the pianos. “You don’t see one for ages, and then suddenly they’re everywhere.”

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