Flower Piano has returned for the third year to the San Francisco Botanical Garden – with the installation of more than a dozen pianos around the grounds, available for visitors to play and to listen to other pianists. Organizers Mauro Ffortissimo and Dean Mermell have added some new features this year, including an area they’re calling “Beatnik’s Corner.”
There’s more information about the installation at the San Francisco Botanical Garden website.
Another change this year is that one of the stations includes a pair of nested grand pianos for duo performances, in addition to the new Beatnik’s Corner. “Mauro has been getting more heavily involved in the North Beach poetry scene,” Mermell says, “And coming out of that, and just kind of our natural tendencies, we wanted to create an area where we could emulate old-time San Francisco culture, and how it’s percolating into society now. What we have here is this beautiful kind of rotunda-like area, and we have a grand piano here, a prepared piano, a la John Cage, and also a… what Mauro calls a “liberated piano”, which is a piano which has been… the keyboard and all the mechanism has been removed from it, and he just plays on the strings directly. And we’re also going to have poetry here, people are welcome to bring their poems and read them.” The pianos are available to the public throughout the run through 6 pm on the 24th. But there are also going to be scheduled soloists: “It’s pretty heavily scheduled for certain periods of the weekend. Saturday we have our 12-piano extravaganza from 12 to 2, where each of the pianos is programmed with a different musician for two hours. That’s an amazing thing to walk around and experience.” New too this year is a fund-raising ticketed event called ‘Night Garden Piano.’ “We’re lighting up the garden. All the pathways are going to be lit by a professional company that creates beautiful nighttime environments. We’re going to have some of our pianists programmed on some of the pianos, some of them are going to be left open… There’s also going to be something here called the luminescent grand. Which is a special translucent piano with LED lights in it that are triggered by the notes being played instantly by the piano, and it is really magnificent to see somebody do “Flight of the Bumblebee” on that thing.”