‘Play Me, I’m Yours’: Toronto brings pianos to city for Pan Am Games

Pianos and the Pan Am Games. While the connection between the two isn't clear, organizers seem to have justified the $250,000 it's costing to bring 41 fully functional pianos to the streets of Toronto.

"Everyone, whether you've had two lessons on a piano or whether you're a concert pianist, everyone at one point in their lives has encountered a piano in some form," Don Shipley, creative director of arts, culture and festivals for the Pan Am Games, told the National Post.

To celebrate Toronto's winning bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, Toronto-based artists from each of the 41 Pan Am countries will decorate each piano with a distinctive nod to their country of origin.

The pianos, each eight with "Play Me, I'm Yours" written across the key cover, will be "placed in accessible spaces across the city core where the public is encouraged to spontaneously break out and play a tune," the Pan Am Toronto site announces. Organizers hope the pianos will encourage community interaction and start conversations about the upcoming 2015 Pan Am Games — somehow. Again, outside of "harmony" jargon, the piano-athletics link remains foggy.

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"This exercise in harmony through diversity will be launched at a special celebration and free concert in David Pecaut Square on the evening of July 10," three years to the day of the Games' opening ceremony in Toronto, the official site states.

The original "Play Me, I'm Yours" exhibit — British artist Luke Jerram set up 15 street pianos in Birmingham — started touring the world in 2008. At the end of the July, the pianos will be sent to other communities in the Greater Toronto Area.

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Fortunately, this spending won't directly affect tax payers' wallets. It will, however, directly affect their ear drums. Here's hoping that Torontonians are brushing up on "Chopsticks" and "Heart and Soul" — or that talented folks like the guy below, at a street piano in London, get a chance to show off a little:

Maybe the piano is the new plastic moose.

(CP photo)