The sweet sound of music will be heard throughout Aberdeen’s city centre this month after a popular street piano project was officially launched.
Play Me, I’m Yours – part of an internationally touring artwork devised by British artist Luke Jerram – will see a total of 12 pianos available to play by members of the public at various locations throughout the city centre as well as in Aberdeen International Airport from August 01 to 21.
Spearheaded by business organisation Aberdeen Inspired, the 12 pianos have been decorated by creative art students from North East Scotland College and the disability support charity Inspire in a range of vibrant and eye-catching patterns.
Sourced through generous donations from a range of individuals and organisations from throughout the north-east, the pianos have been acquired, tuned and prepared by Gordon Bell of Gordon Bell Pianos as well as by staff from the young peoples’ homelessness charity Aberdeen Foyer.
Locations for the pianos include: the Aberdeen International Airport Arrivals Hall, Aberdeen Railway Station/Union Square Link Corridor, The Academy Shopping Centre Courtyard, Bon Accord & St Nicholas, Castlegate, George Street (outside John Lewis), His Majesty’s Theatre, King Street (outside ACT), St Nicholas Street, The Green, The Trinity Centre and Union Plaza Forecourt.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “Play Me, I’m Yours has become a global phenomenon in recent years and similar to the highly successful Wild Dolphin trail in 2014 and successfully operated in iconic cities around the world, including most recently Paris and Geneva. We believe that the pianos will capture the imagination of all who encounter them.
“This exhibition marks just one of a series of exciting projects that will encompass Aberdeen Inspired’s Summer of Art as we devise a programme of events that will help us increase footfall to the city as well as dwell time and spending.
“We’re especially grateful to Gordon Bell and the staff and students and NESCOL for all their assistance over the past few months, along with the team from Aberdeen Foyer and Inspire who without this simply wouldn’t have been possible. I also want to say a thank you to the various businesses and individuals who have volunteered to act as ‘piano buddies’ during the exhibition, helping to ensure the pianos are accessible as possible to the public.”
Rob Wallen, principal of North East Scotland College, added: “The College is delighted to be involved in this project. We are very keen to encourage individuals to develop and display their musical talents, and to help make live music more visible and audible in the public realm. This project does that – but also provides an opportunity for some of our students and a range of other young people to practice their design skills and collaborate in making this project happen.
“I look forward to seeing -- and hearing -- the results in various locations across the city in August.”
Gordon Bell, owner of Gordon Bell Pianos, said: “I’m delighted to be able to assist Aberdeen Inspired and their other partners with ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’. Aberdeen has never seen anything like this, and I think this exhibition has the power to stop passers-by in their tracks.
“Pianos are often seen as the sole preserve of the concert hall, so having a total of 12 right across the city centre for anyone to play is wonderful. Budding pianists can finally realise their dreams of playing in public, while others who may never have touched a piano before may be inspired to learn how to play.”
Ken Milroy, chief executive of Aberdeen Foyer, said: “Much of what Aberdeen Foyer about is breaking down barriers and enabling people to build confidence and develop their skills to make major changes in their lives. How appropriate therefore for Foyer supervisors and a trainee to be involved in this creative collaboration bringing an added attraction to Aberdeen this summer. ‘Play Me I’m Yours’ will indeed break the silence, break down barriers and bring people together – a great community endeavour and we’re very pleased to be part of it.”
Luke Jerram, International artist and creator of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’, explained: “The idea for Play Me, I’m Yours came from visiting my local launderette. I saw the same people there each weekend and yet no one talked to one another. I suddenly realised that within a city, there must be hundreds of these invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence. Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space.
“I'm really excited to see the Aberdeen street pianos in their locations across the city and can't wait to see and hear Aberdonian amateur and professional musicians in action.”
For full details on the pianos, their locations and opening times, and to share any films, photos and stories about the pianos, people are encouraged to visit www.aberdeenpianos.com. Whilst documenting each piano’s journey, the website also connects the pianos and their communities across the city centre and acts as a legacy for the artwork.
Twitter hashtag – #aberdeenpianos