Playing in the street

Worldwide movement arrives in Chile, floods streets with music

As part of the ‘Play me, I’m yours’ project, Santiago’s streets are full of pianos, encouraging everyone to play a tune.

Thursday, November 14, 2013 Category: Daily life
Chilean concert pianist Roberto Bravo entertains crowds on one of Santiago’s newly installed ‘Street Chilean concert pianist Roberto Bravo entertains crowds on one of Santiago’s newly installed ‘Street Pianos.’ Photo via Cultura RM/Twitter



Walking down Santiago’s cafe-lined streets, wide avenues or busy thoroughfares it’s obvious something new is happening; Something that wasn’t here just a few days earlier is drawing the attention of hurried commuters, ambling seniors and curious children alike. Crowds of people, some large, some small, huddle in groups along the street making it impossible to see whatever it is at the center of the cluster, but a sound, faint at first, growing gradually louder gives you a clue.

Sometimes it’s a recent pop song, other times its modal jazz, a breath of classical music is common and sometimes, thankfully only occasionally, it’s “Chopsticks”.

Since mid-October Santiago’s streets have played host to 20 pianos set up to give the city’s inhabitants the chance to entertain their neighbors and passers-by with their musical ability. Part of an international project called “Play me, I’m yours”, the pianos will remain on the capital’s streets until December 15.

As well as bringing music to the streets, the pianos are also aesthetically pleasing — each one has been decorated by a leading Chilean artist.

Created by installation artist Luke Jerram in 2007 and debuted in London, the piano intervention has since travelled across the world to cities as far afield as Paris, New York and Sao Paulo.

The aim is to create access to music in a range of spaces for expert pianists and amateurs keen to stretch their fingers in public alike.

The event was inaugurated by one of South America’s most famous concert pianists, Roberto Brazo in Santiago’s Plaza de Armas. Large crowds gathered to see the renowned musician play, but passers-by have been equally receptive to amateurs, often gathering to listen, make requests or have a go themselves.

This, however, was not the first time Bravo has treated the Chilean public to his playing for free. The competition-winning pianist played a series of free concerts in the southern city of Puerto Montt in May. Meanwhile, another Chilean pianist has been making headlines after she founded a music school on the remote pacific island of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. Local Mahani Teave decided to create the school to assist talented youngsters in developing their skills on the island.