Nothing’s put a smile on my face this year more than the Newton pianos. Nine pianos, decorated by local artists, were planted on street corners all over the city for the month of May as part of the Newton Festival of the Arts. There were great scheduled performances at all of the pianos but the real magic was what happened in between.
The combination of surprise and delight upon people discovering them, the smiles spreading across nearby faces as a passerby decides to sit down and play, the wonderful sense of shared joy as strangers gathered around as a random person decided to give it a go – all magic. If you somehow missed all this take a look at this montage of a month of pianos.
The mastermind, whirlwind and force of nature behind the whole project was a woman named Maria Beatriz Arvelo. I didn’t know her when this project started but now a month later, both she and her mother Maritza have become two of my favorite people in the City. They were everywhere all month and wherever they went they spread their enthusiasm and pure joy around these pianos.
Here in Upper Falls and in Maria’s home turf in Newton Centre we can’t let them go. At the end of the month the other seven pianos were donated to local organizations. These two in Newton Center and Upper Falls will stay until the pianos run out of gas – probably by the end of the summer. In the meantime though they’ll get plenty of use. The Newton Centre piano on the Green gets a tremendous amount of use because of all the foot traffic. Both pianos are at stops on this Sunday’s Tour de Newton so we’re hoping we have folks playing away for the endless stream of arriving bicyclists.
In the last 24 hours we’ve hatched one more planned adventure for the Upper Falls piano. A week from Sunday is the 4th annual Feast of the Falls. We’ll move the Upper Falls piano to Hemlock Gorge for the day. Maritza, a beautiful player, will be entertaining the 400 arriving guests as they walk from Echo Bridge to the start of the very, very long dinner table. We’re planning to make the piano the focus of after dinner entertainment. We’re going old school, when dinner’s done we’ll gather around the piano in the parlor and sing and play into the night.
BTW – we’re looking for a crowd pleasing, singing piano player with a big repertoire of old favorites that can lead the charge. If you know anyone, tell them they’ll get free tickets to the Feast of the Falls, even if they don’t live in Upper Falls.
Thanks to Maria and Maritza, to Newton Community Pride, to the artists that painted them, to the piano tuners and movers who donated their work, to the village piano tenders that covered them and uncover them every night, to the scheduled performers, to the folks that lined up the performers, but most of all to the random people all over the city who just decided to sit down and play – y’all made magic here in Newton.