Get your hands on the keys to the city with ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’

Artists Frank Casazza and Michael Crockett with their piano
Artists Frank Casazza and Michael Crockett with their piano.

Few people — aspiring musicians or otherwise — dare to dream that they might one day have the chance to tickle the ivories of a baby grand piano at Symphony Hall.

But on Sept. 27, that dream will become a reality. Symphony Hall, along with the Paul Revere Freedom Trail and many other well-known locales, will transform into a public stage. In honor of the Celebrity Series (the annual nonprofit arts program), 75 pianos are slated for installation as interactive public art pieces throughout the city and beyond.

The pianos are part of Play Me, I’m Yours, a mobile, interactive exhibit founded by U.K.-based artist Luke Jerram. The aim of the project is exactly what the title implies: It’s an open invitation, encouraging any and all passersby to make music. Since its 2008 launch, the tour has placed more than 1,000 pianos across 37 cities, including Cleveland, Paris and Munich. In Boston, each piano commemorates a year of the Celebrity Series, and will be stationed from Somerville to Brookline, Logan Airport to the Museum of Fine Arts — and everywhere in between.

“It’s been an incredible movement,” says Melody Pao, the project’s coordinator. “The way the public has been responding to the project is a testament to how art and music do bring people together.”

All the pianos are donated and each serves as a blank canvas for the many local artists, schools and organizations that volunteered to decorate them. Above, a piano painted by artist Nancy-Lee Mauger.
All the pianos are donated and each serves as a blank canvas for the many local artists, schools and organizations that volunteered to decorate them. Above, a piano painted by artist Nancy-Lee Mauger.

The initiative program fosters community interaction and helps Boston’s highly regarded music scene feel more accessible. All the pianos are donated and each serves as a blank canvas for the many local artists, schools and organizations that volunteered to decorate them.

Participating artists were given six weeks to design their pianos with their own concept honoring the mission. And, while all the pianos feature unique inspirations, the most buzzed-about local fixture is arguably a baby grand painted by Michael Crockett and Frank Casazza (who worked on the project under the names Hazel Eyes Studio and Eyeformation Ef). Boasting vibrant swirls of pink and yellow, the design is reflective of the Celebrity Series, according to Margo Saulnier, the program’s project manager.

“Their design concept [was] really dynamic,” says Saulnier. “It was fine art meets graphic novel, so it’s really colorful and bold and creative, and that’s what we wanted.”

Saulnier and Pao sifted through a dozen submissions before settling on Crockett and Casazza’s creation, which will be displayed in City Hall Plaza.

The installation will be on view — and free to play — throughout Boston until Oct. 14.


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