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Painted Pianos Entrance New Yorkers

Ellen Levitt

Posted on June 5, 2018 21:32

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The 2018 season of Sing For Hope painted pianos, placed in public spaces around the five boroughs of New York City, is an annual treat that brings music, art and communal fun to everyone.

New York City is experiencing painted piano fever: the annual Sing For Hope festival, which brings 50 painted pianos to public spaces all around the five boroughs of NYC, is once again bringing acoustic music, splashy art, and community spirit to various outdoor sites. Parks, playgrounds, plazas and other communal areas receive upright pianos that have been renovated and painted with a variety of intriguing themes. 

The opening ceremony for the Sing For Hope pianos took place beginning at noon on Monday, June 4th, at 28 Liberty Plaza in lower Manhattan. This year, because there was the threat of rain, only a few of the pianos were placed outdoors and the rest were grouped inside the adjacent building. But anyone could come by for the opening greetings given by SFH founders Camille Zamora and Monica Yunus, followed by singing and piano playing by veteran soul singer Sarah Dash, the actress/singer Daphne Rubin-Vega, the musical group Lucky Chops and a few others. 

In addition, a group of school children sang and chanted in the seating area, and right outside a small group of sight-impaired adults gathered around a piano and sang a spirited set of tunes. Moreover, individuals sat down at a few of the pianos and played them. 

Sing For Hope has sponsored this innovative program every year except for one, since 2006, for two to three weeks in June. Each year this program has been implemented I have sought out some of the pianos to play and document their art and décor, to see how people of various ages, groups and abilities have flocked to them, and to explore the ways in which these pianos promote music appreciation and community spirit. 

The pianos have been decorated with abstract designs, designs reflecting Broadway shows and historic places, animals and flowers, and much more. The 2018 class of pianos are found mostly in public parks and playgrounds: large ones such as Central Park, Astoria Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadow Park but also smaller ones such as the Jacob Schiff Playground, Shore Road Park, and others. A few have been placed in Recreation Centers such as Williamsbridge Oval Community Center, the Brownsville Rec Center and more. Others are found in historic houses (Bartow-Pell Mansion, Historic Richmond Town, the Old Stone House, and even the Brooklyn Children's Museum and Jamaica Hospital. Many of these locales also hosted pianos in past years.

The Sing For Hope website has information on each piano this year and in previous years and also provides a handy map. The organization sponsors special events including concerts using the pianos, and contests for fans to take photos and post them. An extra mini-piano was introduced this year and is found in a traveling MINI Cooper car. After the pianos finish their neighborhood residencies, they will be donated to schools around the city. 

Each piano is accompanied by a music book, a matching decorated bench, and volunteer caretakers. Seek them out and play them! 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on June 5, 2018 21:32

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