Learn more about Pianos in the Parks
About Pianos in the Parks
Pianos in the Parks encourages you to discover your local parks, your musical talent, your inner performer and your community.
Starting August 17, the pianos are moving out of the parks into their new home. Goodbye pianos!
Check out our finalists and winner, Justin Chan! Justin performed at KEXP and Seattle Center's Concert the Mural on Aug. 21.
Check out all the videos entered! So many good ones!
The piano auction has ended. We are happy to say that all the pianos have found a second life in their new home.
Pianos in the Parks is a true public-private partnership, involving many of our area’s leading music and arts organizations. The idea came out of this question: “What can we do that is fun, connects our community, and provides a platform for discovering the great things going on in our local parks?”
The Pianos in the Parks campaign combines the great talents, missions and efforts of the Seattle Symphony, KEXP, Gage Academy of Art, City of Music, Classic Pianos, PlayNetwork, Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks, Bellevue Parks, Kirkland Parks, City of Mercer Island Parks, City of Bellevue Arts, Seattle, MICA, Classical King FM, Port of Seattle and KCTS 9 and is made possible by Laird Norton Wealth Management.
In addition to the primary partners, Pianos in the Parks has received generous support from local artists, musicians, companies and community organizations – making Pianos in the Parks a truly collaborative effort aimed at discovering local parks.More About Our Partners
Follow on Facebook
Meet Justin Chan, Winner of the 2015 Pianos in the Parks Contest
Above all, Justin Chan’s winning entry for the Pianos in the Parks video contest was FUN! It had musicality, an original tune and an unusual overhead split-frame view that featured Justin’s hands as he played two different pianos. Still, the competition was stiff this year, and Justin is ecstatic to have won. He’s now busy getting ready to perform this Friday (Aug. 21) 5:15 pm at the KEXP and Seattle Center Concerts at the Mural, as the opening act. We just had to know more about this guy, so we tracked him down last night.
Justin, how does it feel to be the PITP contest winner and be performing at Seattle Center tomorrow?
Justin: I was ecstatic to win the contest. There were so many great performances. For a working adult like me to even be part of this competition was huge. And I’m very excited to perform at the Seattle Center, the biggest audience by far for me.
Your entry had a catchy tune and an interesting camera angle – four hands and two keyboards. How did that come about?
Justin: I take piano lessons over Skype, so I’m very familiar with the overhead view. I set it up for my teacher, Dave Frank, who lives in NYC, and the overhead lets him see my playing here on Mercer Island. It’s amazing the Internet enables this type of instruction. So I thought for the Pianos in the Parks contest people would get a kick out of the overhead view, too. Because the melody for Stu’s Blues has two parts, I played the first part on the Mercerdale Park grand piano, near where I live. The other part was on the upright at Luther Burbank Park. I mixed the two on my computer and it turned out!
Why “Stu’s Blues”?
Justin: A friend of mine named Stu made up the basic tune back when we were in high school jazz band together 20 years ago. We used to improvise around that, which is what I did for the video contest. I’m still in touch with Stu, and he’s thrilled I won the contest. Jazz never sounds the exact same way twice, as the parts in between the beginning and the end are all made up on the spot.
Did you have any jam sessions at the pianos in the parks?
Justin: Yes! When I was playing the Kirkland piano, a guy suddenly appeared and started playing guitar. That’s what Pianos in the Parks is all about!
Yes, definitely. What’s your musical background?
Justin: I took classical lessons as a kid and started jazz piano in high school. Then I went to college and started computer science. Two years ago, I started taking lessons again. This summer, someone told me about the Pianos in the Parks, and I thought it sounded really interesting.
Where are you from and what do you?
Justin: Since 1998 I’ve lived in Seattle, but I grew up in Calgary, Canada. I’m now 37 and run a small software consulting company. I’m one of those guys who stays up to code at night and piano is a great escape for me.
Who’s your favorite pianist and what do you want to do with music in the future?
Justin: My favorite pianist is Oscar Peterson [Canadian jazz pianist who died Dec. 2007], known for complicated, rapid playing. I have a photo of him and me at Jazz Alley to keep me motivated. My goal is to learn to play better with other musicians. Part of that is going to Tuesday night jam sessions at the Owl & Thistle in Seattle.
Justin’s opening for a great lineup this Friday, Aug. 21, at the Concerts at the Mural, Seattle Center. He’s on at 5:15 pm, followed by three very different, very good bands: The Coup, Pillar Point, and Sassy Black. Don’t miss it!
Artist Spotlight – Martijn Caspar Swart!
Martijn’s piano design is a loose reference to the series of plein aire landscape work. His piano was at Marymoor Park.
Artist Spotlight – Olivia Beaufait, and her son William!
Olivia and William live next to Jefferson Park. They were excited to add a colorful addition to the park amenities for a few weeks this summer.
Artist Spotlight – Kentaro Shimoda!
When asked about art this is what Kentaro said, “I have always enjoyed how art allows me to feel how I am growing; it allows me to express my independence, and it allows me to learn more about the world and myself.”
Kentaro’s piano was at Magnuson Park and enjoyed by many!
Artist Spotlight – Elizabeth Donahue & Sophia Lael
For Elizabeth and Sophia, this little piano begged to be covered with miniature scenes of Seattle’s beaches in all seasons and times of day.
These two artists have collaborated and been friends for 30 years of artistic endeavors and in the art of living. They wanted to paint the clamming scene to bring the interaction of family, community, and nature to Pianos in the Parks. Seattle’s parks are a huge part of why Elizabeth loves the City so much. She visits Seward Park almost every day, and thinks public interactive art is a great way to inspire the community.
Their piano was at Denny Park.