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One night last August, the Carnival Band’s Ross Barrett wandered over to Spyglass Dock beneath the south end of the Cambie Street Bridge for a jam session with the Carlo Rossi Gang.
The appearance of a piano there last summer made the public venue the perfect space for an evening of free music.
Barrett was mid-song blowing on his saxaphone when he had to profess his love for the project.
“What an incredibly beautiful thing in a Vancouver landscape to come walking down the street and find a piano,” he announced. “Some people, they’re fearing for the heart and soul of our lovely city here. But every once and a while, something like this happens.”
But the following morning, that piano disappeared. It was removed along with three others that CityStudio had positioned around Vancouver for only two months’ time.
On July 1, those four pianos will return, and be joined by an additional six at various locations around the city.
In a telephone interview, CityStudio's Jennifer Vallée (who leads the project alongside Ebba Hassel) told the Straight that an expansion Keys to the Streets was an easy sell.
“We’re doing it a lot bigger because of how positive the reaction was last year,” she said. “We’re doing 10 pianos. More than double.”
CityStudio is going to place three pianos in positions used last year. Those are Spyglass Dock, the Creekside Community Centre, and Robson Park. According to Vallée, the remaining seven locations are being kept under wraps for the time being. “It’s a surprise,” she said.
Another change from last year is how the pianos will be decorated. Vallée revealed that a number of local artists are being tapped to paint the instruments.
The list so-far include Carolyn Bell, Miralda Reyes, and Danielle Vallee.
“They’ll be works of public art as well as public pianos,” Vallée said. “They’ll be beautiful.”
CityStudio’s Keys to the Streets pianos will begin appearing late next week. All 10 will be in place for an official launch on July 1. The project will run through to August 23 when it will conclude that evening with a "Sunset Serenade".