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Hear the stories behind the 75 street pianos in Boston

Posted by Your Town  September 30, 2013 12:15 PM

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Photo by Victoria Bedford

Fabio Tedde playing one of the pianos placed around Boston.

What does it mean to follow a dream?

For London street artist Fabio Tedde, 36, it means following hundreds of pianos around the globe. Tedde came to Boston in hot pursuit of the latest in a series of international exhibits.

Play Me, I’m Yours: Street Pianos Boston brought 75 pianos to different locations around Boston. The exhibit was put together by Celebrity Series of Boston, using pianos that were donated from homes across Boston. They came from craigslist, pianoadoption.com, and other donations.

Celebrity Series executive director Gary Dunning said the city approached artist Luke Jerram, 38, a British Artist who has put 1,000 Play Me, I’m Yours pianos in public spaces around the globe. “It takes these pianos and just activates public space.” Dunning said.

“People will stop and play, stop and listen, stop and connect with one another, in ways they otherwise wouldn’t have, as they walk straight through on their way to the next meeting, or the T, or work, or home.”

Artist Luke Jerram says the project should act as a canvas for the public’s art. “Instead of asking the public to spend fifty dollars to go to a music hall,” Jerram said, “people can actually be creative by themselves, and we can provide a creative opportunity for the public to express themselves on the street.”

For Tedde, that message is powerful enough to send him across the Atlantic Ocean.

“This is the best stage.” Tedde said. “When you play on stage, people pay for the ticket, but whatever happens here is real. If they like you, they stop. If they don’t like you, they walk away. Nobody is forced to stay… it’s amazing. I don’t know of anything more powerful than this.”

The exhibit will be in Boston until October 14, and Tedde plans to play the exhibit out, literally. Two weeks, 75 pianos. He plans to take on a few each day. “Maybe five or six a day, it depends.” Tedde said.

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Photo by Victoria Bedford

One of the pianos in Boston.

Tedde mapped out a travel guide, with 75 highlighted locations, and printed directions to each piano. “I’m very organized.” He said. Because some of Jerram’s 1,000 pianos are in different places at the same time, it’s impossible for Tedde to play them all, but Boston’s 75 seems like an achievable goal to the musician.

So there it is: 14 days, 75 pianos. For Tedde, these next two weeks are just the next step in what has been a four-year musical journey.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

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