‘Play Me, I’m Yours’
New Yorkers across the five boroughs will get the opportunity to express themselves musically this summer as part of Sing For Hope and Make Music New York’s “Play Me I’m Yours” program. The two-week citywide event will feature 60 pianos placed in public spaces throughout New York City.
On June 17, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, joined by City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin and Luke Jerram, the artist who conceived the project, announced the start of the event at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City. The park, which overlooks the East River and the Manhattan skyline, is one of five Queens locations where the pianos will be placed.
The program officially started on June 21 at Make Music New York’s one-day music festival that featured more than 1,000 free performances in all five boroughs. Available until July 5, the pianos will be individually decorated by local artists, student volunteers, New Yorkers and visitors from around the world who will be encouraged to play them. The “Play Me, I’m Yours” installation is presented by the nonprofit organization Sing for Hope, in partnership with Make Music New York and the city of New York.
“Our administration has facilitated dozens of public projects in all five boroughs to help make New York City an even more vibrant place to live and visit, and ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ will be the most interactive one yet,” Bloomberg said. “Anyone can play. It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class virtuoso like Beethoven or a mayor who took one year of lessons, just sit down and let your fingers do the talking.”
High school students Samantha Bogle, Alexander Long and Jaela Cheeks-Lomax treated guests to a performance of the song, “I Love A Piano”. They were followed by the band Jazz Mobile Hot 12, led by Kiane Zawadi, who played New Orleans style jazz.
This large-scale project is made possible by Sing For Hope’s “artist peace corps” consisting of professional artists from New York’s leading companies who volunteer in the organization’s outreach programs.
“Many people never touch a piano, so we are bringing pianos to the people,” Sing For Hope Co-Founding Director Camille Zamora said.
Founded by a group of opera singers, Sing for Hope mobilizes more than 600 world-class artists from classical musicians to photographers to Broadway performers who donate time and talent in volunteer service programs used to benefit schools, hospitals and communities.
“This year, we are proud to offer more than 1,000 musical events, all free, in public spaces throughout the five boroughs of the city,” Make Music New York Founder Aaron Friedman said.
Make Music New York brings a variety of musical offerings to the city’s public spaces. France’s Fête de la Musique, a celebration of music on the summer solstice that brings free concerts to 300 cities all day long, inspired the organization. Last year Make Music New York presented 900 concerts with 4,000 musicians at 272 locations across New York City. The oneday concert featured all types of music from hip-hop to opera, Latin jazz to punk rock performed using streets, sidewalks, stoops, plazas, parks and gardens as venues.
“This citywide initiative is music to our ears,” Van Bramer said. “Community projects like this inspire everyone to not only make their own music but take enjoyment in the melodies as well.”
Jerram’s “Play Me I’m Yours” 2009 London installation will be repeated this summer and will coincide with the New York City event.
In New York City, the pianos will be located in public plazas and parks. “Piano buddies” from local community organizations and neighborhood parks have volunteered to take care of them during their two-week installation.
“Gantry Plaza State Park is a wonderful oasis that is helping to revitalize the Queens waterfront,” New York State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash said. “I hope that these events will help enrich Gantry Plaza and other parks with music from these public pianos.”
The pianos will be opened by 9 a.m. each morning and the public is welcome to play them until 10 p.m. except in a few locations closer to residential areas that will close at 8 p.m. At the end of the project, the pianos will be donated by Sing for Hope to New York City schools and hospitals. Pianos will be located in Gantry Plaza State Park, Athens Square Park in Astoria, Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Hoffman Playground and on 37th Avenue in front of the Jackson Heights Post Office.