Halifax is enjoying the sounds and experiences of spontaneous street music after #PlayMeHfx placed three painted pianos in Downtown Halifax and the Halifax Waterfront for everyone to play, experience, and enjoy until the end of October. #PlayMeHfx received $2,500 in funding to support two pianos through the Gritty to Pretty beautification grant from DHBC and additional support from Waterfront Development led to a third piano. One piano is located in each of the following locations: Grafton Park (in front of the former Halifax Memorial Library); on the corner of Salter Street and Hollis Street; and at Queen’s Wharf.
“We were blown away by how Halifax responded last year,” said Jeremy Banks, one of the original #PlayMeHfx founders. “From spontaneous flash mobs, to professional musicians, including performers from the 2015 Halifax Jazz Festival and Journey’s Jonathan Cain, we knew we had to do it again this year!”
Designed to showcase the beauty and talent of everyday people, the project encourages improvised performances and gatherings that give the opportunity to start new conversations. #PlayMeHfx helps strangers to become friends, and for Downtown Halifax to showcase its vibrancy as it reconnects people with the city. This year, the pianos feature the design of artist Mitch Underhay, creator of the Asteroidea painting on the Halifax waterfront, in partnership with Waterfront Development.
In 2015, #PlayMeHfx received $2,000 for two pianos through DHBC’s Gritty to Pretty beautification grant program. "The painted pianos were such a hit last year,” said Paul MacKinnon, DHBC Executive Director. “It was wonderful to see locals and visitors having a great time making music while engaging with their Downtown and each other.”
Banks worked with Meredith Baldwin to bring the program to parks and other locations in the Downtown core. After coming to Halifax and finishing her studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Baldwin wanted to share her love of music with others and became involved in #PlayMeHFX. The pianos will be tuned with the help of Michelle Footz from the Halifax Music Coop and Piano Technician Christiana Armstrong.
“The #PlayMeHFX piano was an incredible hit last year and a great experiential addition to the Halifax waterfront. We’re pleased to work with #PlayMeHFX again and bring it back for a second season,” says Jennifer Angel, Acting President & CEO, Waterfront Development. “Amenities like the new hammocks, and this colourful piano inspire people to stop and have some fun."
Part of the project explores social trust. With the pianos living in public spaces for so long, it takes the entire community to celebrate and consider their preservation. A rain cover will be provided on-site for each piano in the event of bad weather. When it rains, passersby will be able to cover the piano, helping to preserve it for the entire season. To share their events and experiences at the pianos, people are encouraged to use the hashtag #PlayMeHfx.