SAN FRANCISCO – Beneath a giant, native tree from New Zealand, the beautiful notes of Chopin soared from a piano nestled under the branches at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.
“The setting can’t be beat. As a stage, this wonderful tree with the hanging plants. It’s just so beautiful,” said Ian Scarfe, the pianist who
The beauty of the SF Botanical Gardens usually isn’t measured in notes, but this is the seventh Flower Piano weekend, when people can marvel at flowers and plants mixed in with music and pianos.
“There are 12 pianos throughout our 55 acres, and they’re everywhere from the great meadow to the redwood grove,” said Stephanie Linder, Executive Director of the San Francisco Botanical Gardens Society which partners with sponsors and Sunset Piano to hold the event.
Meandering along the garden paths, people hear melodies floating from the ferns and forests.
From classical music pieces penned by Beethoven, to jazz, to songs by the Beatles or Lady Gaga, there were plenty of choices for the audience.
Professional musicians with the Community Music Center, SF Jazz, and SF Symphony have all partnered with the Flower Piano program. There are also impromptu performances by passersby.
“We also have lots of open playtime so anyone who comes in can find a piano and sit down and play, and sometimes they hear the most amazing experiences,” said Linder.
In the rhododendron garden, Jose Lobo sang and played the piano with a violinist joining in. Dozens of people paused to listen, circling the piano.
The joy of making music in the open air, brought people to their feet dancing to the beats.
“The unconventional thing of seeing an instrument that should be in someone’s living room, and it’s out here in a beautiful garden, creates kind of sense of wonder I think for people,” said Dean Mermell, co-founder of Sunset Piano.
Mermell and Mauro Ffortissimo, also of Sunset Piano, co-founded the Flower Piano event.
Their pianos create a musical wonderland in the Gardens, where the show goes on, rain or shine.Walled tents are on hand in case weather turns wet.
“If that’s the case we’ may do acoustic versions. No amplification because of electricity,” said Ffortissimo, “It’d be like in the early days. It will be more intimate. Just people gathered around the piano.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity especially for little kids. And it’s nice to be in the park,” said Wathid Assawasunthonnet, a San Francisco who was enjoying the event with his wife Mahalia and their son Liam, 3, who was playing on one of the pianos.
The crowds of people, smiling and nodding to the music, were soaking up the rare San Francisco sunshine Friday. Even the smallest children, moved to the music or sat entranced watching the performers.
And as the event has grown, it might be seen as proof, that when you plant a seed in the earth, or in someone’s musical soul, beauty can blossom in glorious and very unique ways.
The Flower Piano event runs through Tuesday, September 20th at the SF Botanical Gardens at 1199 9th Avenue in San Francisco.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.
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