Last year, British artist Luke Jerram’s “Play Me I’m Yours” project brought 60 pianos to New York City parks, including the Coney Island Boardwalk, in collaboration with local arts organization Sing For Hope. A couple of weeks ago we heard via twitter that the pianos –88 of them this year– were returning on June 18th.
We started looking for photos and videos of the Coney Island piano from last summer to include in a post. In addition to our friend Bruce Handy’s black and white shot of the Boardwalk piano waiting for a player, we found these entertaining videos of Manny Panta’s rendition of Joplin’s “The Entertainer” and Sandy Santra’s solo piano improvisation. “Play Me, I’m Yours was a dream come true for me: playing piano on the streets of New York in just about every location imaginable,” wrote Santra on the Play Me I’m Yours website.
The street pianos will return on Saturday, June 18th, for another two-week run. When ATZ visited Sing for Hope’s website in May, we liked the idea that one could reserve a date for a “Pop-Up Concert” at any of the locations. That option is not currently available, though on the Coney Island Piano’s page, someone has scheduled a concert for June 18 at 1:30 pm. “Sarah LeMieux will sing jazz and blues standards and originals! Visit her on MySpace and ReverbNation.” She’s going to be playing to a packed house–it’s just before the Mermaid Parade gets underway!
This year’s project is called “Sing for Hope’s Pop Up Pianos” instead of “Play Me I’m Yours!” because the arts organization has taken the artist’s original concept and made it its own. A story in today’s NY Times City Room describes “discordant notes” between the artist who originated the project and Sing for Hope, which led to a parting of the ways…
The artist, Luke Jerram, said his idea of putting a batch of pianos outdoors and letting anyone play them had spread to more than 20 cities. But he said the arts group that oversaw last year’s installation in New York — and is overseeing this year’s — had told him, “We don’t want you to come.”
We’re baffled and dismayed. But don’t let it keep you from playing the piano in Coney Island or anywhere else in New York. Somebody should bang out “Who Stole My Blue Suede Shoes” and dedicate it to Luke Jerram.
Related posts on ATZ...
April 22, 2011: Music Video: A Coney Island Song by Paul Sanchez
March 15, 2011: Hail, Hail Garland Jeffreys! Coney Island Has a New Anthem
December 7, 2010: New Music Video: Little Silver’s Where We Met
November 30, 2010: Video: The Wanted’s Lose My Mind at Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel Park