In additional to the usual sights and smells of the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, another element — music — filled the air again this month. Flower Piano, an event in its second year, placed 12 pianos around the garden for ten days. Amateurs and professionals young and old took their turns at the keys, and the results were sometimes touching and generally delightful. The bit of surprise and wonder came from Sunset Piano, a group funded by Burning Man's art organization, Black Rock Arts. And the festivities concluded last night with a sold out set of performances by pianist Serene Han and "Moon Songs" by soprano Caroluna with pianist Allison Lovejoy.
"When you take a piano and you put it in a beautiful setting like this, people are suddenly surprised by it,” the artist and musician Dean Mermell, who is half of Sunset Piano along with Mauro ffortissimo, told the Chronicle. “Out here, it’s really about the music and the way the music interacts with the environment."
The 12 instruments were covered at night to keep them from getting totally warped and destroyed by the elements, but there were moments when certain keys on some pianos were (understandably) out of tune. “They’re not concert-level Steinways,” said Mermell.
"Flower Piano is civic life at its most civil," wrote Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik, "an antidote for living through a time when one signs on with daily trepidation." I suppose we'll have to wait until next year for some more civility, then?