Music-making is placed in the hands of all Angelenos with the opening of Play Me, I'm Yours, a community-wide art and music installation featuring 30 pianos in public spaces across Los Angeles County. Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra brought UK artist Luke Jerram's installation to Los Angeles for three weeks starting with a lunch launch on April 12th.
For the launch, Colburn Conservatory junior JungYeon Yim journeyed on the Colburn bus to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, a historic plaza that includes Olvera Street, the oldest street in downtown Los Angeles. Tour buses lined the avenue and a variety of people were taking advantage of the beautiful weather; tourists milled about with cameras and maps, families with strollers explored the colorful shops and older gentlemen quietly people-watched from sunlit benches.
The far-off strains of "Twinkle, Twinkle" led us to the piano, located in a sun-dappled corner of the plaza. "We get a steady stream of people who cut through this corner of the plaza as they exit Union Station and walk to their downtown destinations." said John Kopczynski, public relations representative for El Pueblo de Los Angeles. "Hopefully they'll take advantage and spontaneously make some music." And, indeed, passersby were already doing just that! Although it had only arrived 12 hours earlier, Los Angeles residents Janet, Joanne and their four young charges had discovered the instrument. "We came to the area to keep the kids busy and I happened to spot a man playing the piano. I thought he was a street performer, but as we got closer we saw that the piano was for everyone." Young Zander, Trinity and Julian seemed thrilled to test out their piano skills, but weren't sure exactly sure what to think about the installation. "A piano, outdoors?" said Trinity. Emie, the youngest, offered a more decisive opinion, "I like it!"
JungYeon was poised at the piano to begin directly at noon. Her performance of Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier was joined by 29 pianists simultaneously playing the piece on the other installations throughout the city. "Although it is very famous, I had never actually played the piece before, so it was fun to learn it for this event." said JungYeon, who began her piano lessons at age four in Korea. Her partners in sound that afternoon were the rhythmic 'thwapp' of a helicopter overhead and the oceanic white noise of the nearby freeway. A mischievous breeze provided an extra challenge by catching the pages of her music.
The pianos were designed and decorated by local artists and community organizations and each one represents an unique aspect of the community. Chicano arts movement leader Frank Romero reflected the Olvera Street piano's surroundings with bold colors and drawings including a sombrero, cactus and guitar.
Los Angeles joins more than 20 cities around the world from London to Grand Rapids, which have hosted Play Me, I’m Yours. If you are in The Colburn School area, you would be hard pressed NOT to bump into a piano-- our downtown neighbors at California Plaza, Wells Fargo, LA City Hall Complex and the Music Center are all hosting a piano for the installation.
Monday April, 16, 2012 at 05:39PM