Public pianos encourage moments of creativity and community in our busy lives. Created by British artist Luke Jerram in 2008, the “Play Me, I’m Yours” street piano project began in Birmingham, UK and has since turned into a bonafide movement with more than 1,900 street pianos installed in 60 cities across the globe, reaching over 10 million people.
Here in this province, Business & Arts NL is proud to continue the legacy of community music-making with our #ComePlayWithMeNL public piano program. Since its inception, the program has seen six public pianos installed at various locations around St. John’s, and one at Deer Lake Airport.
On September 29, Business & Arts NL was pleased to unveil its latest public piano (sponsored by Memorial University) at the Emera Innovation Exchange at Memorial’s new Signal Hill Campus during a public open house. The piano launch was accompanied by remarks from Jennifer Adams, Director of Strategic Innovation at Signal Hill Campus; Memorial University President Dr. Gary Kachanoski; and Business & Arts NL Executive Director Peter Soucy. Also on hand was Bill Brennan, award-winning musician and assistant professor at Memorial University’s School of Music, who christened the baby grand with a few tunes.
Soucy says the latest piano will help further Business & Arts NL’s overall mission of unifying both the arts and business communities. And, considering its placement in a space that embraces and encourages collaboration and innovation, it couldn’t be a better fit.
“The goal of Business & Arts NL is to draw our corporate and cultural sectors together for mutual benefit. Of our many programs, perhaps the best known is the #ComePlayWithMe public piano initiative. Sponsored and hosted by MUN, this baby grand has found the perfect home in the Emera Innovation Exchange, Signal Hill Campus,” Soucy says.
“It will do here what Business & Arts NL strives to achieve everywhere – bring people together to create and enjoy our unique artistic expression.”
Accompanying the latest #ComePlayWithMeNL piano is newly commissioned, bold and beautiful artwork by local illustrator, graphic designer, print maker and musician Jud Haynes (more about his latest piece in an upcoming post). Haynes is no stranger to the creative community, having completed works for an impressive roster of clients including astronaut Chris Hadfield; actress, comedian and writer Mary Walsh; musicians Neil Young, Blue Rodeo, and Great Big Sea; and CBC, just to name a few. His illustrations have also been commissioned by the Royal Ontario Museum, Massey Hall and the National Arts Centre.
For his latest piece, Haynes says he “set out to reflect the architectural beauty of this Signal Hill Campus by referencing design elements we see here in the building, while also stepping outside to showcase the local community and landscape.” He settled on a colour palette first, he adds, “starting with those in Memorial University’s logo, and adding a punch of yellow to compliment the furniture here in this section.” The completed piece is as thoughtful as it is eye-catching.
Jennifer Adams says the sponsorship reiterates Memorial’s commitment to collaboration and community-building.
“Memorial University is committed to creating and maintaining strong connections with this province’s arts and business communities. We have a long history of working closely with the people and organizations of NL. The addition of the public piano and artwork to our new Signal Hill Campus is a physical representation of countless partnerships over the years, and many more into the future,” she says.
“We are so pleased to have Business & Arts NL here at Signal Hill Campus, and look forward to continued collaboration.”