There’s going to be a lot more music in the bucolic setting of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, as it hosts the fifth annual Flower Piano beginning tomorrow. A dozen pianos will be scattered around the sixty acres, so visitors to the Garden can play them, and hear recitals by many of the Bay Area’s pianists. Mauro Ffortissimo and Dean Mermell, who began the tradition, say there are a few new additions this year.
“We have kind of a roster of musicians that we work with every year that are sort of our core group,” Mermell says. “But each year too, we discover people as we’re walking around the garden that are either professionals that just came for the day to enjoy it, or they’re just musicians that just come home after work and practice their music and they’re really great.” He says that among the 70 or so pianists who will be playing, a quarter of them or more were ‘discovered’ this way. This time, there’s a ‘Flower Piano at Sunset’ performance on Friday evening, and late next week, three ‘Flower Piano at Night’ concerts (which require tickets) including appearances by Chuchito Valdes, of the famed Cuban jazz dynasty, and Sarah Cahill, among many others. Also this year, a duo piano program by Allison Lovejoy and Elektra Schmidt. “They’re going to perform Carnival of the Animals with members of the Awesöme Orchestra supplementing our two pianists, and a full-on marionette show accompanying that. They’ve done that for the last couple of years, and it’s wonderful. That’s a total hit with kids.” Along with Oakland’s Awesöme Orchestra Collective, which will join Lovejoy for a Chopin work, and Serene Han for the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto, there will also be members of the Stanford Youth Orchestra, who will help accompany music of Scott Joplin. And, Ffortissimo says, there will be a few teachers offering free piano lessons during the weekday at noon.