December 18, 2018
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Portland put public pianos in city squares. Now there’s live music all over.

PORTLAND, Maine — Squares along Congress Street rang with plinking keys and soaring voices on Friday as new public pianos were unveiled. The colorful instruments, painted by local artists, are part of the Pianos in the Squares Project and will be available for anyone to play during daylight hours through the end of July.

“I’ve been asked a lot: ‘Why?'” said Sally DeLuca, Director of Portland Parks, Recreation & Facilities. “It’s a really simple answer. We just wanted people to have fun.”

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Jazz pianist Kafari, who goes by just one name, plays in Portland's Longfellow Square on Friday. The instrument is one of four placed in squares along Congress Street for people to use throughout the month of July.

Monument, Bramhall, Congress and Longfellow Squares all got instruments. Each was given a good workout by a local pianist to kick things off. Nearby businesses will bring the pianos in each night and place them in the squares every morning. The project is a joint venture between City of Portland Parks, Recreation & Facilities, Portland Downtown, and Friends of Congress Square Park.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Sophie Rioux (at left in photo at left) improvises with jazz pianist Kafari in Portland's Longfellow Square on Friday. Joshua Hatfield (above right photo) played in Congress Square and Anabelle Brooks (top right photo) played in Monument Square.

“They are for anyone who wants to play the piano,” said DeLuca. “Strangers will be meeting each other and listening to each other play and Portland is such an artsy town, that it didn’t make sense for us not to do it.”

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Pianist Ophelia Hu Kinney thanks the assembled crowd in Portland's Bramhall Square on Friday at the end of a piece of music. The instrument was one of four unveiled Friday as part of the Pianos in the Squares project.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

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