Synchronized with the precision of a Swiss watch, the tolling of the noon bell was joined by 30 movements of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, wafting through Southern California’s crystal-clear air. This choreographed “lunch launch” is part of the Street Pianos initiative, started in Birmingham, UK in 2008. In its initial three weeks, an estimated 140,000 people played or heard music from these pianos. From Birmingham, it has toured major cities of Brazil, England, Australia, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, France and the U.S. These 30 pianos remain in their locations, available for performance or practice 24/7, until May 3rd.
Jeffrey Kahane, music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, lead this timed concert from the bench of California Plaza’s piano, decorated by the Braille Institute. Having performed the first prelude in C Major, Maestro Kahane continued to play several tunes, appeasing the crowd’s call for “encore!” There were many media members snapping, videoing, and recording the audio of this Street Pianos blitz happening all over LA.
After Kahane’s flourishing finish, a pianist representing the Braille Institute stepped up and sat down, accompanying a swaying saxophone soloist:
Within four blocks of downtown Los Angeles, there were three pianos being enjoyed. Directly across Grand Avenue, a second piano’s keys were tickled by an employee on his lunch break.
After his dramatic number was up, he and the crowd seemed pretty tickled, too:
Two blocks away, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a third crowd was entertained by this man:
Having seen these three pianos and their pianists, there is no doubt that the people gathered were entertained and delighted. Smiles permeated the public spaces as tunes turned from one song to another. What will come from these pianos? Impromptu recitals, post-concert theme plunkings, a collaboration between strangers, anything is possible. We have three weeks to play and find out!