Metro

60 pianos to pop up in public spaces around city

Brenna Krahwinkel, from Tenn., gathered a small audience as she played a piano on Boston Common in 2013.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff/File
Brenna Krahwinkel, from Tenn., gathered a small audience as she played a piano on Boston Common in 2013.

The neighborhoods of Boston — and some select parts of Cambridge — will come alive next month with the sound of piano keys being tapped by everyone from professional musicians to novices.

Beginning in September, 60 pianos, all hand-painted or decorated by a mix of local artists and members of community organizations, will be placed around the city so passersby can sit down and tickle the ivories for anyone willing to stop and listen.

The project, called Street Pianos Boston, is part of international artist Luke Jerram’s public art installation, “Play Me, I’m Yours,” which has been touring the world since 2008 and first found its way to the area three years ago. The outdoor performance piece, which is open to anyone to enjoy, is hosted by the Celebrity Series of Boston.

It just wouldn’t be a Boston art installation without a nod to Fenway Park and the Red Sox.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
It just wouldn’t be a Boston art installation without a nod to Fenway Park and the Red Sox.
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The pianos are now at the Innovation and Design Building, where artists until the end of August will give them unique and eye-grabbing designs.

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The Celebrity Series of Boston plans to start rolling the pianos outdoors by Sept. 23, wedging them into discreet pockets of city neighborhoods as well as places with high foot traffic and visibility. They’ll stay out until Oct. 10.

According to organizers, 19 of the artists sprucing up the pianos participated in the project when it first came to Boston in 2013. The other 41 artists picked are new to the musical experiment. Designs will range from paintings to newsclipping collages to sculptures and robotics, they said.

Artist Claudia Ravaschiere of Boston worked on one of the pianos that will be installed in public spaces around Boston.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
Artist Claudia Ravaschiere of Boston worked on one of the pianos that will be installed in public spaces around Boston.

“We are incredibly pleased with the response to our call for artists for Street Pianos Boston. There has been great enthusiasm about being a part of the installation and sharing a vision for these pianos with the entire city,” Gary Dunning, Celebrity Series president and executive director, said in a statement. “The process has resulted in a strong, diverse group of artists and we can’t wait to see what they create.”

Piano locations will be announced in early September — but organizers have said they will occupy space in “every neighborhood”.

Pages and scraps from The Boston Globe were used to cover one of the pianos.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
Pages and scraps from The Boston Globe were used to cover one of the pianos.

Artist Dawn Evans Scaltreto of Watertown worked on her piano project.
David L Ryan, Globe Staff
Artist Dawn Evans Scaltreto of Watertown worked on her piano project.

The tools of the trade are seen near a colorfully decorated piano.
David L Ryan, Globe Staff
The tools of the trade are seen near a colorfully decorated piano.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.