It was too good to be true: 60 pianos were placed all around the five boroughs for New Yorkers’ enjoyment as part of the “Play Me, I’m Yours” interactive public art installation.
After a vandalism incident Saturday June 26 on the piano in Athens Square Park in Astoria, Queens, 59 remain.
Staffers at the music nonprofit Sing for Hope, which is staging the project in conjunction with the parks department, had the gutted piano and a pile of its keys and strings removed shortly after they were notified of the incident by the parks department. The piano was taken by the Camel Piano Moving Company to a warehouse in New Jersey for rehabilitation.
“It seems that, for the most part, New Yorkers have embraced the pianos,” said Emily Walsh, director of operations for Sing for Hope. “We’ve actually been very pleased that this was sort of a one-off incident.”
Walsh said the piano was vandalized early Saturday morning and that there were no signs of blunt force on the instrument.
“It seems more like someone was extremely curious of the piano,” she said, because its keys and inner gears were carefully taken a part and put in a pile.
Valued at $100, the piano was not a huge loss for the organization. Walsh said they do not plan to file a police report.
“We have no idea who this was, and it doesn’t seem like there were any witnesses,” she added.
It was the second time the Astoria piano was vandalized. Several days ago, its fallboard was removed. The first time around, Sing for Hope replaced the piece, but this time the organization isn’t planning to replace anything. All of the pianos were installed from June 18 to 21 for “Play Me, I’m Yours.”
“If we do the project next year, we’ll probably choose another location in Astoria,” said Walsh, adding that the location doesn’t have as much security or pedestrian traffic as other parts of the city.
While this is the first year “Play Me, I’m Yours” has taken place in New York, the event has been in London, Sao Paolo and Sydney, among other places, in the past. Other cities have had pianos vandalized, too, said Walsh.
On July 5, the project will come to an end in New York, and all of the instruments will be picked up. Walsh said when it’s over, Sing for Hope is donating the instruments to schools – if they are left intact for that!