The "Play Me I'm Yours" interactive art installation, which put 60 pianos on the streets of New York last summer, is making its big return on June 18--this time with a new name and even more pianos but without the British artist who inspired the project.
The New York Times reports that Luke Jerram, whose idea of putting pianos outdoors and letting anyone play them has spread to more than 20 cities, said the arts group that oversaw last year’s installation in New York — and is overseeing this year’s —told him, “We don’t want you to come.”
Sing for Hope, the nonprofit arts group behind the project in New York, is calling this year’s installation “Sing for Hope’s Pop-Up Pianos” as opposed to the "Play Me I'm Yours" moniker Jerram used last year--and according to Jerram, that's the only thing they've really changed.
“They said it’s going to be very different, but all they’ve done, really, is change the title,” Mr. Jerram told the Times. “I tried to persuade them this is my art project, this is what I do to make a living. For an arts organization that’s there, supposedly, to support artists, to run off with the project, it’s really disappointing.”
[UPDATE 6/9/2011]: Sing For Hope contacted the Huffington Post with the following response to Luke Jerram's comments in the New York Times article: "Sing for Hope's Pop-Up Pianos was inspired by a project created last year with Luke Jerram’s paid and contracted involvement. This year, the project has evolved to encompass even more artists while celebrating their work individually and recognizing them for their volunteerism that has helped to bring art and music to our NYC parks before they are donated to local organizations. The Pop-Up Pianos (pianos.singforhope.org) website was designed to have the capability to credit the 88 individual artists, something that was not in line with Luke’s vision. Last year, we mutually agreed it was best to part ways.
The first officially-named Street Piano was found in Sheffield, England in 2006, and since then, Street Pianos have been installed around the world, both with and without Luke's involvement. Most recently here in the US, Street Pianos have been installed without Luke in Jacksonville, Denver, and Orange County."
Jerram also admitted he and Sing for Hope weren't quite in tune with each other last year and that their clashing personalities often struck a bad chord.
Sing For Hope, who confirmed they won't be working with Jerram and who says they still credit him on their website, claims they're stretching for a new octave this year.
88 pianos (matching the number of keys on the piano) including 28 new grand pianos, will be bolted down in places like Yankees' stadium, Grand Army Plaza, and Astor Place across all five boroughs of the city.
After the two-week installation closes on July 2nd, the pianos will be donated to local schools and community groups.
The project was a big hit in New York last summer, and only one upright piano, which cost $100, was vandalized.
The New York Post caught up with amateur and professional players as they took to the city's street pianos last year: