Two South Boston residents are among the 60 local artists selected to participate in Play Me, I’m Yours, Luke Jerram’s popular public art installation that will make a return visit to Boston this fall, courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston.
Aaron Beeler, a Professor of Chemistry at Boston University, got the idea to apply for a piano after the 2013 series dropped a piano in front of his office window at BU. “I was so intrigued how it brought people together, and there was someone always playing it,” explains Beeler. “And my wife is a musician, so I have some appreciation for musical arts, so when it was announced that applications were being accepted for the 2016 series, I thought how great it would be to have a piano that represents the scientific community of Boston, that we could appreciate how much of a part of the city the sciences are,” he said.
Beeler took his idea one step forward and engaged his graduate students in the project, who in turn took the project social. “Nearly all chemists have a favorite molecule, so my students Alexis Young and Gabrielle Fleming really ran with that idea and created some great buzz by asking people what their favorite molecule was and why. We got a lot of responses from scientists and non-scientists alike,” he explained.
“Then we all painted the molecules and the information onto the piano. (We were not allowed to indicate people’s names or affiliations on the piano). We hope that this will be a great exhibition of the beauty of science and also help show people how important chemistry is in nearly all aspects of life,” Beeler said.
From September 23 – October 10, 2016, Street Pianos Boston will feature sixty pianos, decorated by these artists and placed in public outdoor spaces in every Boston neighborhood and select Cambridge locations for the public to play and enjoy. Each piano will feature a simple invitation: “Play Me, I’m Yours.” Beeler and his students’ piano will be on display at the Museum of Science.
Play Me, I’m Yours was created by UK artist Luke Jerram and has been touring internationally since 2008. Celebrity Series of Boston first produced the installation in Boston in 2013 when more than 500,000 people across the city engaged with Street Pianos Boston, sharing music and song in a citywide festival. More than 1,500 pianos have now been installed in 50 cities across the globe, from New York to London. The project has reached more than 10 million people worldwide, with each new city that commissions the work becoming part of a growing legacy.
In Boston, Play Me, I’m Yours is produced by the Celebrity Series of Boston, as part of Arts for All!, a community engagement initiative that reaches over 10,000 individuals annually through master classes with main stage artists in public schools and conservatories; hands-on, interactive workshops for youth led by a core group of Boston-area artists; free community concerts in Boston neighborhoods; free and discounted tickets to main stage performances; and large-scale, public participatory performance projects such as Street Pianos Boston.
(Pat Falco is a South Boston Artist who is also painting a piano, but was unavailable for this story.)
For a list of pianos in the South Boston area that you can see and play, visit here! Sullivan’s at Castle Island will have one!