BOSTON — If you were strolling through the city of Boston this weekend chances are you stumbled upon one of the sixty street pianos that local artists individually painted and placed throughout the city. The pianos are part of an internationally touring artwork called “Play Me, I’m Yours” by British artist Luke Jerram that has come to over 50 cities worldwide.
The project first came to the city in 2013 and Celebrity Series Boston, a presenting organization that produces over 100 performance art pieces annually, has brought it back this fall. The street pianos opened on September 23 and will continue until October 10. Every piano is inscribed “Play Me, I’m Yours” and the artist’s signature.
“The first time we did the street pianos it was really one of the first public art installations of its kind to come to Boston,” said Gary Dunning, the President and Executive Director of Celebrity Series Boston. Dunning has devoted his life to facilitating the connection between artist and audience. He first saw “Play Me, I’m Yours” in London, and was so inspired by it that he decided to bring it to Boston. “It was such a success that we decided to bring it back again this year.”
Dennis Carr’s lively, multi-song performance at the piano at City Hall Plaza could be heard from a block away and attracted a small crowd Sunday afternoon.
“I’m glad they brought it back because it was really fun last time,” the 27-year-old Carr said. “It really builds a sense of community and allows people passing by to experience music in a way that wouldn’t normally be possible.”
On the same bright, breezy afternoon Carr performed at City Hall Plaza, Liam Morley, 36, could be found playing a soft, lilting ballad on the street piano at Old North Church. This particular piano was tucked away in a small square on the side of the church, off the beaten path of Boston’s touristy North End neighborhood.
“Each piano has its own artwork, its own sound, its own location,” Morley said. “I’ve played probably around 12 to 15 of them so far, and I’m going to try to play all of them if I can.”
As Morley played, the few people who passed by stopped for a moment and listened. But for the most part it was just him and the piano. He has been playing off and on for 25 years.
“It’s an art installation where the audience is the artist,” Morley said. “A lot of art installations are good to look at but it’s ‘look but don’t touch,’ whereas this invites everybody… to come and be a kid again or be an artist again.”
Dunning encourages everyone who is inspired by the street pianos to make art a daily experience, “because it really does make for a better life.”