Paintbrushes in hand, a small group of residents and employees crowded around a piano late last week inside the arts and crafts room of PATH San Diego, a nonprofit that provides housing and services to the homeless. They were there to paint the piano with artistic interpretations of the concept of home.
“We asked residents to share some words related to how they felt while they were on the street and how they feel now that they’re housed and what it means to have housing,” said Kalie Standish, who helps lead PATH’s community engagement program. “So along here on the piano, the darkness to the light, that’s where we’ll put those words.”
The piano is one of 10 the San Diego Symphony has distributed to local community groups and artists in advance of its upcoming Upright & Grand Piano Festival happening Jan. 8 through Feb. 8. The groups are prettying up the pianos and, when they’re done, the instruments will be placed out in public places like the Central Library downtown, The Headquarters near Seaport Village and the Coronado Ferry Landing.
There’ll be signs and stickers on the pianos that say “Play Me.” The hope is that anyone will be emboldened to sit down and make music.
“Everyone is an artist,” said Allison Morrissey, programs coordinator at the symphony. “So this is about finding your inner artist and then putting these pianos out so people can find their inner musicians as well.”
The public pianos are just one aspect of the symphony’s piano festival. The ambitious debut event also includes a series of performances by world-class pianists, a hands-on community day where people can take piano lessons orhear a “monster piano” performance with eight or more grand pianos on one stage.