Play Me, I'm Yours, a piano-themed arts movement conceptualised by British artist Luke Jerram, is coming to Singapore this March 2016. Started in 2008 in Birmingham, it involves collecting pre-loved pianos, refurbishing them and installing them in public places for public access and entertainment, before moving them to charities that will benefit from the musical instruments. Since its inception, Play Me, I'm Yours has seen 1,500 pianos installed in 50 cities around the world, where an estimated 10 million people have had the chance to play them or to be played to. After making its rounds on the globe for eight years, Play Me, I'm Yours is arriving on our shores for the first time.
For the Singapore tour, Play Me, I'm Yours is teaming up with The Playtent, an organisation dedicated to performing arts training, as well as the Singapore International Foundation. From 14 March 2016 to 6 April 2016, a total of 25 pianos, dressed up by 25 volunteers working with 25 social organisations, will be placed in 25 locations around the island for 25 days. The pianos will be housed for two to three weeks at such locations as The Esplanade Mall, The Arts House, SCAPE, as well heartland-based venues like housing estates, community clubs and suburban malls. In keeping with the tradition of the global movement, each piano will be painstakingly and lovingly restored by volunteers. Not only will the used instruments be retuned so that they present the most beautiful of music, they will also be dressed up in attractive designs. To this end, artists working alongside charities will paint the pianos that are destined to these beneficiaries. While lending themselves to the artistic characters of the varied host venues, these aesthetically-pleasing installation art pieces will be available to musically-inclined individuals who come across them. They will certainly benefit people who might otherwise have no access to such instruments. The full list of locations can be found here.
In its past tours around the world, Play Me, I'm Yours has had the effect of not just extending the reach of the musical arts, but also binding people together with a common love for music. The beautiful pieces of art, made even more beautiful by the pianists sitting before them as they lend their skillful fingers to the keys, have become hubs of human interaction and focal points of conversations. The magic of the movement has even achieved unintended but heartwarming effects, such as allowing some pianists to finally realise their dreams of playing in public. In Singapore's context, it is hoped that this never-seen-before event will inspire passers-by to stop in their tracks, take a seat and follow their hearts as they play their musical renditions. People who wish to lend a hand to this community outreach programme may also contribute their time as Piano Guardians. Working in three-hour shifts, they will be responsible for ensuring that the pianos are well-sheltered from the elements and damage during the course of the event.
Incidentally, a similar event will happen in Singapore in the same month. Launching at the i Light Marina Bay event on 4 March 2016 is Play It Forward Singapore, a homegrown initiative from three former members of the NUS Piano Ensemble. This event will see eight pianos being placed at strategic locations around the country and made available for public use. The machines will be featured paired-up, although they will be donated individually to the benefitting charities at the end of the tour.
Events like these that not only promote the performing arts but also foster community bonding will no doubt add to the vibrancy of the nation as well as the character of its people.