Flower Piano, the now annual event in which the San Francisco Botanical Garden (SFBG) in Golden Gate Park gets transformed into a dozen outdoor concert halls, will be back for its third straight year starting July 13. The event has drawn hundreds if not thousands of newcomers to the Botanical Garden over the last two summers music lovers and other park wanderers who might no otherwise have discovered the garden's incredible diversity of flora. And it's a pretty magical time, too, in which San Franciscans find themselves gathered around pianos under the trees as successive musicians take to the keys, playing everything from Chopin to Lana Del Rey.
"Flower Piano provides something that you can’t find in San Francisco so much any more,” says Dean Mermell, cofounder of Sunset Piano, which put on the original event in the SFBG two summers ago. “It’s so accessible and welcoming to everyone and blurs the line between audience and performer in such a simple and profound way, giving us all a chance to celebrate the unexpected brilliance of strangers and neighbors."
From July 13 to July 24, 12 pianos will be scattered throughout the 55-acre Botanical Garden, some more hidden than others, and anyone with the skills (from "Chopsticks" to Tchaikovsky, as they say) is invited to step up and show off their stuff.
New this year will be a paid-entrance nighttime event called NightGarden Piano on July 22 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. when "Beautifully lit pathways [will] guide visitors to pianos aglow with performances by Sunset Piano all-stars and open pianos to play." Food and drink will be available for purchase, and tickets are $40, with proceeds benefiting Flower Piano.
Throughout the week but concentrated on the two weekends there's a full schedule of professional performers taking to the pianos which you can see here, and these include popular pianist Allison Lovejoy, and composer Holly Mead, who will be premiering an original cycle of songs for piano, cello, and bass.
Says Mead in a release, "As a composer, much of what I write is inspired by natural beauty. Having the opportunity to play my nature-inspired compositions on an acoustic piano in a beautiful botanical garden is a dream come true."
Also, on July 15, there will be a ticketed screening of the documentary film Twelve Pianos, followed by a Q&A with Mermell and co-founder Mauro ffortissimo.
Entrance to the SF Botanical Garden is free to SF residents with ID, and is open 365 days a year starting at 7:30 a.m. Admission for non-residents is $8, or $6 for youths and seniors ($2 for children under 12).
The garden contains over 8,500 different kinds of plants from around the world, from California native varietals to the Southeast Asian Cloud Forest collection and the Magnolia tree grove.