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Arts

Outdoor piano strikes a chord with Trojans

by Dave Dulberg
placed near Campus Center
Photo: USC junior Michael Ahdoot tickles the ivories on a piano situated in the middle of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. (Photo/Nathan Carter)

On the afternoon of April 13, USC senior Natalie Anguili and other USC students, faculty members and staff were greeted by an unfamiliar sight in the middle of the International Plaza of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center: an upright piano painted by muralist Kent Twitchell.

“I freaked out when I saw a piano just sitting there outside the Campus Center,” said Anguili, a theatre major from New York.

The piano serves as an unconventional canvas for a larger-than-life portrait of Jeffery Kahane in commemoration of his 15 years as Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra music director. Beneath its 88 keys, Twitchell painted four simple words: “Play Me, I’m Yours.”

The instrument is one of 30 decorated pianos that temporarily were installed earlier this month around the city of Los Angeles at L.A. Live, Union Station and the Santa Monica Pier, among other locations.

An international touring experiment started by British artist Luke Jerram in 2008, “Play Me, I’m Yours” bonds community members through the sounds of music. More than 500 pianos have been placed around the world near bridges, ferries, public parks and train stations.

On the USC campus, students have been taking advantage of the unexpected delivery.

“The first thing I did was call my band up and tell them we were going to be playing a show there tomorrow afternoon,” Anguili said. “The next day was the official grand opening, and it was just a lot of fun playing original pieces for anyone who wanted to listen.”

Anguili, who sings, plays the piano and writes her own music, said “Play Me, I’m Yours” brings together people from all walks of life around one common passion.

“Music is something everybody relates to on some level,” she said. “The impulse for people, whether they can play or not, is to hit a few strokes or at the very least sit down and listen. What makes this piano so special is that it was dropped in the middle of the Campus Center with no explanation. Anyone who wants to play it can play it. It’s very cool to witness the interactions that have taken place simply because of a piano.”

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