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Bloomberg, music festival launch public piano project in Queens

Youngsters Jaela Cheeks-Lomax (l. to r.), Alexander Long and Samantha Bogle harmonize for City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (second from r.) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Nathan Duke

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a city music festival kicked off a two-week program last week that will place 60 public pianos in public spaces throughout the five boroughs, including five in Queens, and allow for attendees to play them.

“Play Me, I’m Yours” will place the instruments, which are individually decorated by local artists, students and volunteers, at Long Island City’s Gantry Plaza State Park, the Jackson Heights Post Office, Jamaica’s Rufus King Park, Astoria’s Athens Square Park and South Jamaica’s Hoffman Park.

The program, which is in its fourth year, began Monday as part of Make Music New York, a one-day music festival during which more than 1,000 free musical performances are held across the city.

People who stop by to view the 60 pianos are encouraged to play them from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, Bloomberg said during the program’s announcement last Thursday at Gantry Plaza State Park.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a world class virtuoso like Beethoven or a guy who took one year of lessons like Bloomberg — just sit down and let your fingers do the talking,” the mayor said.

The instruments will later be donated by Sing for Hope, a city nonprofit organization, to city schools and hospitals.

The program, which will run through July 5, was inspired by artist Luke Jerram’s 2009 installation in London.

“This citywide initiative is music to our ears,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “Community projects like this inspire everyone to not only make their own music, but to take enjoyment in the melodies as well.”

For more information about “Play Me, I’m Yours,” visit nyc.gov, singforhope.org or makemusicny.org.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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