Pianos in the Parks back in play

Pianos in the Parks is back for a fourth year, showcasing 11 pianos this summer for another three weeks of community and arts celebration.

Pianos recently painted by local artists were unveiled to the public at 12th Avenue Arts on Thursday, July 13, with performances by Lisa Bergman of KING FM, Tomo Nakayama and 3rd Shift Dance artistic director Xaviera Vandermay.

Laird Norton Wealth Management launched its first Pianos in the Parks four years ago in order to connect local arts and community, encouraging the public to rediscover its local parks and to introduced people to classical pianos. Laird Norton was inspired to continue the program year after year after witnessing the power all those things brought together.

“The purpose of Pianos in the Parks has been about community,” said Erin Moyer, director of marketing at Laird Norton Wealth Management. “Through the power of art and music, it has encouraged thousands of people to discover the parks and play the pianos. We’ve heard stories emerge of community building from every park and every piano each year.”

Each year Classic Pianos in Bellevue gives donated pianos to local artists to paint their visions on the old story-filled pianos, which are then distributed in parks around King County for the public to play for a limited time. Pianos are locked at night, to respect the neighbors and protect the instruments from damage.

“I get all these calls from people that have these pianos sitting at home for generations, and there isn’t really a market for them. All of these memories and stories, and nobody wants them,” said Ben Klinger of Classic Pianos. “And now I can go and say, ‘Do you know about Pianos in the Park?’ and they say, yes. We check if they are a fit and bring them in.”

This year One Reel stepped in as the lead producer of Pianos in the Parks, bringing creative changes to the program, which is a combination of permanent locations and one-day events throughout the city.

Five pianos will be placed in parks and public spaces through July 30, including at SeaTac Airport, Sturgus Park, KEXP/Seattle Center, Kenmore Town Square and Si View Park. The other six pianos will have a one-day event during the next three weekends, which will include various activities, such as yoga with piano music accompaniment, piano lessons and performances.

People are welcome to play the pianos at permanent locations, check out the artwork painted on them and participate in any of the one-day events throughout the city.

Cal Anderson Park will have a one-day event 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 23, and feature performances by Play at Work, Random Acts of Art Song with Seattle Art Song Society and Lovecitylove.

“Seattle is a musical city, and arts in general is just a big part of the city and its growth and history,” said Erin Austin, Ok Sweetheart band member and headliner for the Carkeek Park event that took place last weekend. “It’s so great that the city continues to showcase pianos in the parks, allow for local artists to play on the pianos, and encouraging different art forms and exposure to those art forms. It’s a great program.”

For more information about events and piano locations, visit www.pianosintheparks.org.