Pianos In Public: "Anytime you're Lambeth way...."

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 118 months ago
Pianos In Public: "Anytime you're Lambeth way...."

Image by Che-burashka
...or Liverpool Street, or the British Library for that matter, you may soon find a bunch of cocker-nee wannabees mounting something approximate to an olde time singalong: from mid-June, 30 pianos will be placed in public sites around the capital, in order to encourage people to "gather for a singsong with strangers".

The Street Piano project is part of the mayor's Sing London event, and has already been successfully run in Birmingham and Sydney. Each piano will be decorated by an artist with a site-specific motif, attended to by a full-time tuner who'll bike from place to place ensuring a clean middle C, and each will be accompanied by a (laminated) songbook. But beyond that, the instruments will essentially be left to their own devices, with the public "trusted" (lucky us) not to vandalise them. Said Collete Hiller, of Sing London:

"We want people to treat the piano nicely, as they would a piano in their own home, to enjoy the songbooks with care and to cover the piano when it rains."

Well, we can but hope, eh?

While the instruments will probably see more Chopsticks than Chopin, and be occasionally (mis)used as accompaniment for drunken singalongs whose participants are more Brahms and Liszt than Brahms or Liszt, they may also prove a surprise hit in a city where public art performance is growing in popularity (witness the spate of flash mobbing or the clamour to participate in works by Antony Gormley and Martin Creed). As an unlikely attempt at smuggling civic engagement and old-time values in via the back door, it just might work. And many of the capital's more talented ivory-tinklers will surely be tickled by the idea of playing for a public audience at venues like Smithfields Market or the Bank of England.

The pianos will be in place from June 23rd, with a special launch event that day at 6.30pm, Leicester Square. After three weeks they will be donated to schools and community centres.

See a map of all the Street Piano sites after the jump.

View Street Piano Locations in a larger map

Last Updated 31 May 2009