British artist Luke Jerram’s “Play Me, I’m Yours” is proof there is something absolutely new under the sun .
It’s a county-wide, free, public art installation, featuring 30 decorated pianos located in public spaces for Angelenos to play 24/7 for 22 days.
Presented by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, it culminates the season-long celebration of LACO music director/pianist Jeffrey Kahane’s 15th anniversary.
The pianos will be installed around Los Angeles on Thursday, April 12 and remain in place until May 3. On April 12 at noon, 30 pianists will take their places at the 30 pianos and simultaneously perform the Complete Preludes from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, after which they will each play works of their own choosing.
“Play Me, I’m Yours” is designed to foster “hubs of creativity” through spontaneous music-making. The pianos will be decorated by local artists — celebrated and amateur, and installed in high-traffic shopping centers, corporate centers, idyllic places, schools and other public places in downtown LA, Santa Monica, Monterey Park, Watts, San Pedro, Panorama City and points between.
Artists are turning the pianos into three-dimensional canvases and transforming them into original works of art. Among the artists are are famed muralist Kent Twitchell, Chicano Art Movement Leader Frank Romero, Colombian-American artist Frank Cubillos, and Chinese calligrapher Peizhi Yu with Son Qian;
Twitchell, who is arguably the best and most prolific of Los Angeles’s legendary muralists, painted a massive mural “Harbor Freeway Overture” on the 110 Freeway in Downtown LA 20 years ago in homage to LACO that features LACO musicians.
Other pianos are being transformed by community-based groups such as the Braille Institute, Fabian Debora, Crossroads and New Roads schools in Santa Monica, Homeboy Industries, Long Beach’s Arts & Services for Disabled, Inc., The HeArt Project in Collaboration with Graffiti Artist Man One, William Grant Still Arts Center with AISE; and Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club;
To date, “Play Me, I’m Yours” has been staged by Jerram in 22 cities around the world.
Local sponsors Include Wells Fargo Foundation; Fawcett Family Foundation; and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; with in-kind support from LA INC. and Discover the Arts LA; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; Hollywood Piano Company; and media sponsorship from Los Angeles Times and Classical KUSC 91.5 FM
The project includes a dedicated website -– streetpianosLA.com– where anyone may upload videos and photos of themselves and the pianos. Those materials become a part of the virtual community of streetpianos internationally.
“This special countywide tribute to Jeffrey Kahane reflects Jeffrey’s incredible artistry, unbridled passion for music, deep devotion to music education, and all that he has given musically to Los Angeles during his tenure,” says LACO Executive Director Rachel Fine.
Fine added, “With the pianos serving as blank canvases upon which people can share their own creativity, we look forward to hearing our neighbors, co-workers, and other fellow Angelenos play these instruments. Beyond solo playing, we encourage choirs, bands, other musical ensembles and even dancers to incorporate rehearsals or jam sessions at the piano sites. Some people may seek out all 30 pianos to see the different locations as well as the unique visual aspects of each instrument. The pianos are there to be enjoyed by everyone.”
Jerram said, “It’s a great pleasure to work with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to present my art project. This is by far the most ambitious presentation of the installation to date. I hope the public enjoys the project and takes advantage of the opportunity to perform, express themselves and go out and play.”
The monumental installation marks the Southern California debut of “Play Me, I’m Yours,” Jerram’s conceptual artwork that has been touring internationally since 2008. To date, more than 500 pianos have been made available to the public in some 22 cities across the globe, from New York to Sydney, bearing the simple instruction “Play Me, I’m Yours.”
It has been seen by more than two million people worldwide, with each new city that commissions the work becoming part of a growing legacy. In 2012, in addition to Los Angeles, the artwork will be presented in San Juan (Puerto Rico) in May, London and Salt Lake City in June and Salem (Oregon) in July.
After each presentation of the project, the pianos are donated to schools and community groups in the area.
LACO has organized the donation of 30 upright pianos from generous individuals and organizations with the assistance of the Hollywood Piano Company. It has also arranged for “piano buddies” (volunteer caretakers) to oversee the care of each piano throughout the three-week period. Each piano is equipped with a plastic cover in case of rain, and the pianos will be tuned throughout the installation to ensure playability. “Play Me, I’m Yours” is a capstone to Discover the Arts LA, a city-wide celebration of the arts created annually by LA INC.
Jerram was born in 1974 in the UK. His multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. He lives in the UK but works internationally. www.lukejerram.com
Los Angeles Chamber Orchesta, called “America’s finest chamber orchestra” by Public Radio International, has established itself among the world’s top musical ensembles. Since 1997, LACO has performed under the baton of acclaimed conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, hailed by critics as “visionary” and “a conductor of uncommon intellect, insight and musical integrity” with “undeniable charisma. LACO presents seven Orchestral Series concerts at both Glendale’s Alex Theatre and UCLA’s Royce Hall, five Baroque Conversations concerts at downtown Los Angeles’ Zipper Concert Hall, three Westside Connections chamber music concerts at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, three Family Concerts at the Alex Theatre and an annual Discover concert at Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium. In addition, LACO presents a Concert Gala, an annual Silent Film screening at Royce Hall and several fundraising salons each year. LACO was founded in 1968.
Locations of the pianos
Downtown Los Angeles: Bunker Hill,California Plaza; Bunker Hill, Wells Fargo Center; Chinatown Central Plaza; International Plaza, Ronald Tutor Campus Center, University of Southern California; L.A. LIVE; Los Angeles City Hall Complex; Music Center of Los Angeles County; Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historical Monument; Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts; Union Station
San Gabriel Valley/The Foothills: Claremont, Rhino Records;Glendale Community College; Old Pasadena: One Colorado; Pasadena Conservatory of Music; Pasadena Playhouse District; Vroman’s Courtyard.
Santa Monica/Westside: Royce Hall, UCLA; Santa Monica, Annenberg Community Beach House; Santa Monica Pier; VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Hollywood/Mid-City: Hollywood: Egyptian Theatre; Nate Holden Performing Arts Center; William Grant Still Arts Center; 5900 Wilshire Boulevard, The Variety Building.
South LA/Harbor area: San Pedro, Warner Grand Theatre; Torrance Cultural Arts Center Plaza; Watts /Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club
Eastside: Boyle Heights,Los Angeles Music and Art School; Monterey Park: Atlantic Times Square.
San Fernando Valley North Hollywood: El Portal Theatre; Panorama City: Plaza del Valle.