Duke Ellington's "Take the A-Train." Pianist David Owen.
A bit of Burning Man-style delight and randomness came to the SF Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park this past weekend via the first few days of Flower Piano an installation from Sunset Piano, funded in part by Black Rock Arts, which we told you about last week. It's an interactive installation helping to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the garden, and it's the fourth such outdoor installation of pianos by artists Mauro ffortissimo and Dean Mermell (read about Opus 1, 2, 3 here). All weekend long you could hear the impromptu tinklings of classical, jazz, and modern pop tunes wafting through the rare plants and emanating from 12 different corners of the garden, sometimes accompanying live singers.
Included among the players who passed through this first weekend were a ton of talented people including a guy who arrived out of nowhere as I was there with friends on Sunday, in running shorts, who played a smashing version of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" from memory, and one young woman who accompanied herself to a slow and soulful rendition of Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend."
Hear her, below.
There was at least one appearance by someone semi-famous: Steve Nieve, Elvis Costello's longtime keyboardist, playing in the Moon Viewing Garden.
This is a guy who stopped by and played two lengthy, incredibly difficult pieces by Franz Liszt.
And there were even little kids playing!! YouTuber tappel32 posted the compilation below, featuring video clips from several of the pianos, and at the 2:33 mark you can hear the piano stylings of a kid whose head you can barely see over the instrument.
Two friends played a couple of Cuban tunes in the New Zealand garden, complete with percussion.
This is friends Alberto Paredes and Matthew McKines at the piano in the Garden of California Native Plants, courtesy of Richmond SF Blog.
A pair of unidentified musicians, with a very talented singer, busted out some great jazz standards.
And, for good measure, here are a few more.
Flower Piano will be there, in 12 spots in the Botanical Garden, through next weekend, with the pianos all disappearing after July 20th.
Impromptu players are asked to limit their playing to 15 minutes, and the garden is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with admission free for SF residents. But in addition to all the unscheduled greatness you'll find each day, there's are scheduled performances coming up on Saturday and Sunday at various pianos, which you can find a list of here.