Read about the artists that transformed the pianos, musicians that inspire us and the adventures people are having with the pianos.

What’s Your Favorite Park – Video by PlayNetwork

What is your favorite park? Listen as those involved in the program discuss their favorite parks.  Get out and check them out!

The Artists and Their Pianos – Video by PlayNetwork

Listen and watch the various artists discuss and showcase the pianos they designed and created.

Why Pianos in the Parks – Video by PlayNetwork

Listen to Bob Moser, CEO of Laird Norton Wealth Management, Ben Klinger from Classic Pianos, Tom Mara from KEXP and artists involved in the program discuss what Pianos in the Parks means to them.

July 16: Special Performance and KING FM’s “Instrument Petting Zoo” at Chism Beach

Music, Art and Fun in the Sun!

Ever wonder how heavy a trombone is? Or how light a violin bow? Today, kids of all ages can explore all sorts of musical instruments, thanks to Classical KING Fm’s Instrument Petting Zoo. It all takes place on Saturday, July 16, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. So pack a picnic and a swimsuit and get ready to make some music! The wonderful piano, “Imaginary Piano” by artist Karina Kudinova will also be available for everyone to play from 10 am to 7 pm.

Karina Kudinova and Chism Beach Piano

And don’t miss the performance at noon by Andrew Gu, KING FM Young Artist Award Winner!

KING FM Instrument Petting Zoo

July 14: Tango with Us on Mercer Island

Are you ready to tango? On Thursday, July 14 at noon — at Luther Burbank Park —  the Mercer Island Center for Arts (MICA) has made possible a noon concert by pianists Connie Wible and Suzanne Zahniser.

Suzanne and Connie will play these four pieces by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla: Fuga Y Misterio; Milonga del Angel; Libertango (possibly his most famous) and Tangata.

Piazzolla actually played the bandoneon, a type of accordion. The two-piano (four-hands) arrangement was written by Pablo Ziegler, a pianist who played with Piazzolla himself in one of his quintets.

“We love this music because it is so passionate and thrilling!” says Suzanne. Both she and Connie are Mercer Island residents, musicians and heavily involved in the Mercer Island arts community.

Connect with MICA (Mercer Island Center for the Arts)

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They will be playing on piano entitled “Crossings” by artist, Cynthia Wessling.

Cynthia Wessling and Crossings

Any time on July 14, visit the MICA info booth near the piano and learn what MICA is up to. It’s a lot. To give you the scoop on that, we talked with Sharon Perez, who is heading the fundraising effort that should allow MICA to open its doors in 2019. (more…)

July 13: Make Music with the Seattle Symphony at Westlake Center!

What are you doing for lunch this Wed. July 13?
From Noon to 1 pm, we’ll be making musical instruments with the Seattle Symphony at Westlake Center, right next to the “Dancin’ Keys”, they piano designed by Barbi Leifert. All supplies will be provided for kids of all ages to make their own wind instrument. And then you can really toot your horn!

Barbi Leifert and Westlake Piano

Right at noon, there will be a special 30-minute piano performance by Seattle musician Kitt Bender. Kitt’s music delivers a one-two punch of anthemic pop writing and stadium-ready rock showmanship. After earning his degree in music technology and composition, Bender released three albums, touring nationally. His latest the full-length album is Out of My Mind.

Kit Bender photo

West Seattle Piano Students Play at Kubota Gardens

Hopefully you caught John Van Lierop’s piano students from West Seattle Piano Studio on July 9 a Kubota Gardens in Renton. It sounds like they had a great audience!All Students

One Student

Introducing Pianos in the Parks 2016

Check out this great from PlayNetwork introducing the program!

Pianos in the Parks 2016!

It’s happening again: Pianos in the Parks!

LNWM is sponsoring another summer of music, art and fun in partnership with 17 local community partners. This year, though, things will be a bit different. The theme is “10 Pianos, 10 Parks, 10 Days.” Each day from July 8 through July 17, an artist-designed piano will appear at a local park. The next day, another piano at another park, through July 17.

The fun begins this Monday, June 20. Everyone gets a chance to guess which parks get the pianos and win a prize. The “Name that Park” contest works like this:

Each weekday, from June 20 through July 1, you will see clues about 1 of the local parks that will host a piano. The clues — five throughout each day at 9 am, 11 am, NOON, 1 pm and 3 pm — will be posted at a bunch of different places: The Pianos in the Parks website and Facebook, as well as the websites and Facebook pages of LNWM and many of our 17 community partners.

Ready to Name that Park?

  1. Go to the “Name that Park” page. Click on the Entry Day, which lists the clues and prize for that day.
  2. Pick from the list the name of the park you think fits the clues.
  3. Check back after 4 pm daily to see that day’s winner!

Meet Justin Chan, Winner of the 2015 Pianos in the Parks Contest

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Above all, Justin Chan’s winning entry for the Pianos in the Parks video contest was FUN! It had musicality, an original tune and an unusual overhead split-frame view that featured Justin’s hands as he played two different pianos. Still, the competition was stiff this year, and Justin is ecstatic to have won. He’s now busy getting ready to perform this Friday (Aug. 21) 5:15 pm at the KEXP and Seattle Center Concerts at the Mural, as the opening act. We just had to know more about this guy, so we tracked him down last night.

Justin, how does it feel to be the PITP contest winner and be performing at Seattle Center tomorrow?
Justin: I was ecstatic to win the contest. There were so many great performances. For a working adult like me to even be part of this competition was huge. And I’m very excited to perform at the Seattle Center, the biggest audience by far for me.

Your entry had a catchy tune and an interesting camera angle – four hands and two keyboards. How did that come about?
Justin: I take piano lessons over Skype, so I’m very familiar with the overhead view. I set it up for my teacher, Dave Frank, who lives in NYC, and the overhead lets him see my playing here on Mercer Island. It’s amazing the Internet enables this type of instruction. So I thought for the Pianos in the Parks contest people would get a kick out of the overhead view, too. Because the melody for Stu’s Blues has two parts, I played the first part on the Mercerdale Park grand piano, near where I live. The other part was on the upright at Luther Burbank Park. I mixed the two on my computer and it turned out!

Why “Stu’s Blues”?
Justin: A friend of mine named Stu made up the basic tune back when we were in high school jazz band together 20 years ago. We used to improvise around that, which is what I did for the video contest. I’m still in touch with Stu, and he’s thrilled I won the contest. Jazz never sounds the exact same way twice, as the parts in between the beginning and the end are all made up on the spot.

Did you have any jam sessions at the pianos in the parks?
Justin: Yes! When I was playing the Kirkland piano, a guy suddenly appeared and started playing guitar. That’s what Pianos in the Parks is all about!

Yes, definitely. What’s your musical background?
Justin: I took classical lessons as a kid and started jazz piano in high school. Then I went to college and started computer science. Two years ago, I started taking lessons again. This summer, someone told me about the Pianos in the Parks, and I thought it sounded really interesting.

Where are you from and what do you?
Justin: Since 1998 I’ve lived in Seattle, but I grew up in Calgary, Canada. I’m now 37 and run a small software consulting company. I’m one of those guys who stays up to code at night and piano is a great escape for me.

Who’s your favorite pianist and what do you want to do with music in the future?
Justin: My favorite pianist is Oscar Peterson [Canadian jazz pianist who died Dec. 2007], known for complicated, rapid playing. I have a photo of him and me at Jazz Alley to keep me motivated. My goal is to learn to play better with other musicians. Part of that is going to Tuesday night jam sessions at the Owl & Thistle in Seattle.

Justin’s opening for a great lineup this Friday, Aug. 21, at the Concerts at the Mural, Seattle Center. He’s on at 5:15 pm, followed by three very different, very good bands: The Coup, Pillar Point, and Sassy Black. Don’t miss it!