‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ was first commissioned by Fierce Earth in Birmingham, UK in 2008. With 15 pianos located across the city for three weeks it is estimated that over 140,000 people played or listened to music from the pianos. Since then ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ has reached an estimated six million people worldwide. Each new city that commissions the artwork becomes part of this growing international legacy.
‘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.’
Luke Jerram, International artist and creator of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’
News of the project spread internationally and since then, the artwork has toured the world, acting as a high profile event for many organisations, including the Pan Am Games, 2010 European Capital of Culture in Pecs, LA Chamber Orchestra, San Jose Biennial, Sydney Festival, City of London Festival, Faculty of Music at University of Cambridge and Barcelona’s Maria Canals International Music Competition.
Disrupting peoples’ negotiation of their city, Street Pianos are designed to provoke people into engaging, activating and claiming ownership of their urban landscape. Like a musical equivalent of Facebook, Street Pianos, together with this website, provide an interconnected resource for the public to express themselves.
The pianos have also enticed many hidden musicians out of the woodwork. It has become apparent that there are thousands of pianists out there who don’t have regular access to a piano. ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ provides access to this wonderful musical instrument and gives musicians the opportunity to share their creativity by performing in public.
In cities like London, hundreds of perfectly good, working, second-hand pianos get thrown away each year. Jerram transports dozens of these pianos annually, to countries where the instrument is rare and more valued, for the public to enjoy. After being presented as part of a ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ installation many of the pianos are donated to schools and community groups within the local area.
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 Sacre Coeur, Paris, on an old upright piano for a few hundred people.
Jamie Cullum on Paris Street Pianos
‘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 on New York Street Pianos
Each city has a unique website where the public upload and share their films, photos and stories of their interaction with the pianos, for example visit www.streetpianosla.com. Each website acts as one of the legacies of the project, providing a means for the public to communicate with one another on a local level, but also within an international arena with people from all over the world. The websites help to connect the different communities, providing maps of each cities’ piano locations and promoting special events. All content is created and uploaded by the public.
‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ has exceptional reach as a major piece of public art, with the story of the artwork being told by journalists around the globe – see press coverage for more details. We are currently in discussion with over 20 cities who are interested in commissioning and presenting the artwork in 2014.
The team at the Arts Centre Melbourne have created an amazing film evaluating Play Me, I’m Yours Melbourne 2014 (see below) and they also produced a an online book that evaluates the project which you can view here.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class virtuoso like Beethoven or a guy who took one year of lessons like Bloomberg, just sit down and let your fingers do the talking,”
NYC Mayor Bloomberg
Press Area: click here to download free high resolution images.
Watch this great film that shows what can happen to a piano after the installation…
Bring Play Me, I’m Yours to Your City!
Play Me, I’m Yours is managed and promoted by the author of the artwork, artist Luke Jerram. If you would like to discuss commissioning the work please contact us. We look forward to speaking with you about bringing ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ to your city.