PLAY ME, I’M YOURS
by Vivian Holding
Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram, with street pianos being placed throughout cities – on streets, in markets, train stations and public parks, with the aim to encourage the public to engage and connect with each other through their love of the instrument.
No need to play like Beethoven though, anyone can have a go.
Where did the idea for ‘Play me, I’m yours’ come from?
‘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. Where people have met for the first time around the pianos, the project has led to several marriages around the world. ’
Luke Jerram, International artist and creator of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’
When was the project started?
The project has been running since 2008 and since then, it has reached over 10 million people worldwide in 55 cities. Geneva has participated in the project thanks to the initiative of Dan Acher (who calls himself an Artivist), who set up Happy City Lab – an urban space exploration laboratory, committed to creating happy cities. It uses the city as a canvas to create situations and events that generate powerful participatory experiences, allowing people to make the most of the moment and get out of their usual routine.
What is the aim of the project?
It has become apparent that there are many hidden musicians out there who don’t have regular access to a piano. Play Me, I’m Yours gives them, as well as complete novices, the opportunity to share their talents by performing in public.
In previous years, musical talents such as Alicia Keys (in New York) and Jamie Cullum (in Paris) have surprised unknowing audiences by playing on one of the project’s pianos. Here in Geneva, you are more likely to have the pleasure of hearing the musical talents of a student from the Conservatoire de Genève, like we had the pleasure of doing last year. This inspired my daughter with a few years of piano lessons behind her to play too, which for me was the far greater pleasure.
‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ created a beautiful and worthy moment for our city, by bringing the Street Pianos to our city’s parks and public spaces. It’s things like this that make me extra proud to be a New Yorker, and the endless possibilities represented in these streets.” Alicia Keys.
“Such a simple concept that brings out the best in people. It reminds us of the strange and beautiful things that can happen in everyday life. I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life playing beneath the Sacré Cœur, Paris on an old upright piano for a few hundred people.” Jamie Cullum.
When and Where in Geneva?
This year, Play Me, I’m Yours comes to Geneva (and surrounding areas) from 14th-27th June 2017, for the 7th year running and sees the placement of 54 pianos in a total of 18 different communes in Geneva and Nyon. Click here for further information on locations.
For me, the best location to see these pianos would be at the Jardin Anglais (and seeing as Luke Jerram is English, where better?). Six brightly painted pianos, facing the lake and Jet d’Eau, have been placed 4 metres apart forming a kind of rainbow effect. Whilst I was there, every piano was in use – a Grandmother was attempting to play a tune to a very young child (not the most tuneful of songs, but she was having go!), a group of Chinese tourists with suitcases stopped to play some very impressive pieces (they obviously had some very good pianists in their group), two children were tinkling in unison whilst laughing and messing around and a lovely American lady was practising the scales she remembered learning as a small child.
The Artist Luke Jerram
Luke Jerram is a multidisciplinary artist who creates large awe inspiring artwork in the form of sculptures, installations and live artworks which are exhibited internationally. To see more of his work, click here.