Play Me, I’m Yours (Toronto Life, Ep. 318)

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I’m a total sucker for public art that is a series of identical forms painted differently and placed around the city. Like Lobsters in the City in Halifax. Spirit bears and eagles in Vancouver. Moose and snowmen in Toronto. And now, Lil’ Sis informed me last week, pianos in the city! Play Me, I’m Yours is the travelling installation of colourfully pianos. My first question, of course, was, “What happens when it rains??”

What’s different is that these pianos have been everywhere and are not staying in the city (only in town until July 31). And by everywhere, I mean since 2008, 27 cities so far North America (Toronto is the first Canadian city), Europe, South America, and Australia. Next up, Salem, Oregon. Later this year, the pianos will arrive in their first Asian city, Hangzhou in China.

To get in on the “action” as soon as possible, I spent the greater part of Thursday night listing and mapping a route (over 14K!) to track down and take pictures of 22 pianos in the downtown core. I’m really sad I don’t have a reason to go to the airport before the pianos leave!! This is a serious route so I dressed seriously in runners, running skirt and technical top!

It turned out that when I went to Toronto Island for a work event, our ferry to the island was the very one with a Street Piano installed. Score! As much as I had my route planned out, big water bottle with lemon-infused water filled, and clothes laid out, I was still loathed to go outdoors but it was fairly fun and I discovered parks I had not known of before and learned the names places I did know. I started by heading east from my place and covering Corus Quay and adorable Sugar Beach and Distillery District first. Then the piano locations were much more closely spaced when I returned back to the very core. I was getting tired after a few hours and the three west of Spadina did not seem worth the walk amidst a heat wave and in the middle of the day. Still, I located 20 of the 41 pianos.

  • Favourite piano: Brazil piano at Commerce Court (CIBC is a lead partner for the 2015 Toronto PanAm Games so several pianos were located at CIBCs. Yay!)
  • Favourite piano that could be passed as a normal piano: Argentina piano in Distillery District
  • Favourite performer:  the little old Asian lady in a muumuu/nightgown who may have wandered over to the OCAD piano from a Chinatown apartment playing for a small group in the school’s park
  • Busiest piano: Harbourfront Centre, giving me a chance to walk across their grounds to the back and learn how extensive they are. I see the crowds arriving downtown every weekend and walking down my street towards the water and now I know where they go.
  • Saddest piano: In Cloud Gardens near Bay-Adelaide Centre, I immediately did not like the feeling going in there. It’s in the heart of Financial District but the people in there include two skateboarders practicing tricks and two homeless fellows. The cute small piano installed there was missing two panels which I can only conclude were removed by selfish fools wanting to display them as trophies. Who does something like that?!


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