Calgary

Calgary street pianos attracts musicians from all walks of life

Calgarians will have the chance to play more one-of-a-kind instruments in the downtown core this summer.

Lawyers, accountants and Drop-In Centre clients tickle the ivories

The 'Wee Little Piano Book Exchange' is located in front of Saltlike on Stephen Avenue.

People from all walks of life can once again make music on Calgary's busy streets.

The street piano project was started three years ago as an experiment in crime prevention and community building.

"It was so successful in bringing people together — people that would never play the piano together, probably would never even have a conversation together," said Maggie Schofield, executive director of the Downtown Calgary Association.

Schofield says the outdoor pianos have been played by everyone from accountants and lawyers on their coffee breaks, to clients of the Calgary Drop-In Centre.

"We have people that are living in apartments that clearly don't have the space or the means to have a piano."

By the end of the summer, a total of three public pianos will be parked on sidewalks in downtown Calgary, each one custom-made by the National Music Centre's collections and artifact care manager, Jesse Moffatt.  

"It actually looks like a plant container," said the project's curator Kenna Burima about the "Woodlands" piano, which is currently sitting on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Third Street S.W. 
The 'Woodlands' piano was built by Jesse Moffatt and features live plants. (Submitted by Kenna Burima)

Then there's a 61-key piano (standard pianos have 88) on Stephen Avenue in front of Saltlik called the "Wee Little Piano Book Exchange," which has a library built into its backside, inviting people to take or leave a novel. 

The third piano will be revealed later this summer. 

"It's a surprise," said Burima, who is busy hiring local musicians to play these wacky pianos over the lunch hour this summer.

The concerts will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m., staring June 30 with Calgary Flames organist Willy Joosen.

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