Play Me I'm Yours

Luke Jerram

Sing for Hope, a public service organization for artists, announced that it would install 60 pianos in the parks and public spaces of New York City’s five boroughs to be available to all who pass by from June 21 to July 5, 2010. “Many people never touch a piano, so we are bringing pianos to the people,” says Sing for Hope Co-Founding Director Camille Zamora. “This large-scale project is made possible by Sing for Hope’s ‘artist peace corps’ – professional artists from New York’s leading companies who volunteer in Sing for Hope’s outreach programs.” “Sing for Hope’s street piano project is our way of saying that the arts belong to everyone,” says Zamora’s fellow Co-Founding Director, Monica Yunus.

Sing for Hope’s plan to bring street pianos to New York began in 2009, when Zamora read an article in The New York Times about British artist Luke Jerram and his Play Me, I’m Yours street piano installation in London. Zamora and Yunus, best friends from Juilliard, felt that bringing street pianos to New York would be a great way to highlight Sing for Hope’s mission of making art available to all, and they contacted Jerram to initiate a partnership.

From 21st June – 5th July, 60 upright pianos were distributed across New York City by Sing for Hope. Located in public parks, streets and plazas the pianos were available for any member of the public to play and engage with. Following the artwork, the pianos were donated to local schools and community groups.

“This project is not only about music. It's also a public art installation - similar to what happened with the painted cows, but like interactive cows!" says Sing for Hope Director of Operations Emily Walsh. Sing for Hope arranged for “piano buddies” from local community organizations to take care of the 60 street pianos. After their two-week public residency, the pianos were donated by Sing for Hope to local schools and hospitals, enriching New York’s communities for years to come.

In the words of Grammy Award Winner Alicia Keys, “I believe in the creative potential of New York City, and I applaud everything Sing for Hope does to develop that potential. This summer, Sing for Hope will create a beautiful and worthy moment for our city by bringing Play Me, I’m Yours to our city’s parks and public spaces. It’s things like this, the endless possibilities represented in these streets, that make me extra proud to be a New Yorker.”