The Piano Project in Kenora, Ont., encourages everyone to sit, 'plunk a few tunes out'

A new community music and visual arts initiative seems to be hitting all the right notes with people in Kenora, Ont. The Piano Project is the brainchild of Steven Wolfe. He found two old pianos, had them painted in vibrant colours, and put them in the city's downtown core for anyone to play.

'Different people of all different ages, demographics' playing two vibrantly painted public pianos

Steven Wolfe, creator of The Piano Project in Kenora, Ont., stands beside one of two painted pianos which have been placed in the city's downtown area for the public to play during the summer. (Kenora Catholic District School Board)
The piano project... A young artist is taking music to the streets in Kenora. We meet Steven Wolfe and hear what inspired him to find a pair of pianos, paint them and then put them downtown so everyone has a chance to tickle the ivories! 7:30

A new community music and visual arts initiative seems to be hitting all the right notes with people in Kenora.

The Piano Project is the brainchild of Steven Wolfe, who grew up in the picturesque city of about 10,000, located on the shores of Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario.

Wolfe, who is now a music student at Western University in London, found two old pianos, had them painted in vibrant colours, and then placed them in the city's downtown core for anyone to play.

The response has been "amazing," he said.

'Awesome to see'

"I spent 15 minutes downtown the other evening and within that 15 minute time span we had about five or six people playing the pianos that were passing by. I've seen so many different people of all different ages, demographics and it's been awesome to see."

The two upright pianos were painted by students at the city's St. Thomas Aquinas High School, from which Wolfe also graduated.

Students in the mural class at St. Thomas Aquinas High School paint one of the two pianos, which were later placed in the downtown core of Kenora, Ont., with an invitation for anyone to sit down and play. (Kenora Catholic District School Board)

"The students created a virtual concept using technology and then the vision was pulled together to create a Piet Mondrian and Woodlands inspired design," teacher George Brunton explained in a written release from the Kenora Catholic District School Board.

"The finished pianos came together quite well, with a bright and colourful palette making these reclaimed pianos visually sing with joy," he said.

The Mondrian-influenced piano is "very contemporary and very vibrant in the community, and it stands out very well and it really attracts people to it," noted Wolfe. 

The painting on this piano was inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian. Both pianos are protected from the sun, and the rain by a shelter built with materials donated by McMunn and Yates.

The ultimate goal of the project is to entice people to sit down, tickle the ivories and just come together for "a good time," he said.

"No matter how busy our days get or how stressful they can be, that we just take some time to relax and take a few moments to enjoy our day, and if that means sitting down at a piano and just plunking a few tunes out, if that puts a smile on your face, I want to see that happening and just see people come together around the arts in Kenora."

Wolfe is asking anyone who sits down to play to post a picture with the hashtag, #thepianoprojectkenora. He's also requesting that people tag @wolfesoundmusic, so he can "share their posts on our Facebook site to celebrate their contributions to the arts in Kenora."

You can hear the full interview on The Piano Project on CBC's Superior Morning here

This piano, painted in a Woodlands-inspired theme, has been put in downtown Kenora, Ont., with an invitation to 'Please play me.' (Kenora Catholic District School Board )