There are 41 pianos positioned around Toronto, and they’ll be there for the next 3 weeks. As part of the three-year countdown to the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, artist Luke Jerram has brought his international project to Canada. Each of the pianos has been painted and decorated to represent one of the Pan Am Games’ participating countries and placed in select parks, intersections and public places throughout the city, with an open invitation to sit down and play.
I found out about the project yesterday and kind of tucked it away in the back of my mind as I headed into Toronto for a couple of meetings today. After a stimulating lunch with fellow tweeps @jennzia @acampbell99 @kathrynmeisner and @heidisiwak—and, and Dan-Peter-Who-Is-Not-Yet-On-Twitter, I decided to take a stroll with @monicabatac down Bloor Street. There, right in front of the Royal Ontario Museum stood the piano dedicated to Bermuda.
“I’m going to play it,” I told Monica, as we crossed the intersection. I figured if I announced my intentions to someone, the likelihood would be higher that I would actually go through with it. There weren’t too many people hanging around, but there were a couple of youngsters who were serenading us with pieces that they knew by heart.
When my turn came I chose Desperado as my selection. It’s one of my favourites, with a completely recognizable opening piano introduction. As soon as my fingers hit the keys I pretty well forgot where I was, and what I was actually doing and I was completely unaware that a small crowd was gathering. As I played the final notes of the piece, my musical trance was broken by the sound of applause. The 15-20 folks who had stopped to listen were smiling. It was a moment of unexpected connection.
I yielded the piano to a 3 year old who had climbed up on the bench and was sitting beside me. I left him to have his moment, and continued on my way, knowing that something quite unique had just happened.