Flower Piano: Harmony in Nature

Flower Piano Harmony

“Flower Piano is situated at that enchanted meeting point of music and environment,” stated Dean Memel, who, along with Mauro Fortissimo, founded Sunset Piano, an event partner.

Beaded cultural sessions, where “off” concerts, masterclasses and intergenerational days combining music and botany combine, will spread across Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône from spring to fall. Intimate journeys and roaming add to anchoring.

It is an annual musical event in Marseille, in the SOUTH Provence-Apes Côte d’Azur region and beyond.

A real cultural and social action around classical piano, jazz, and improvisation, linked to botany and gastronomy.

Enjoying the best musicians in the Bay Area in the most breathtaking setting of the city, it’s a remarkably safe outdoor space where we can be our best selves as humans.”

Welcome to magical kingdom of Flower Piano; everyone who loves or hates the piano: birds, animals, tree huggers, bush huggers, Chopin players, chopstick users, young fans of Mendelssohn or old Metallica fans, people who are curious about plants, even the far-off, appreciative whales in San Francisco Bay.

Musical Notes at Flower Piano

The democratization of access through social actions and inclusive prices will concern audiences usually excluded from this program. Let us kindly summon our five senses:

  • Hearing, of course, fond of classical swirls, jazz, improvisation and open to tales.
  • The view is thanks to the remarkable sites chosen for the unique preservation of nature.
  • Taste during tastings that honor inventive regional know-how.
  • The delicate touch of the artists on their ebony and ivory keyboards.
  • The sense of smell is stimulated by the floral scents of drinks and dishes specially concocted for the occasion.

And may we add a sixth that connects us to life at its best and gives it full meaning.

 The sharing:

 Sharing with children with Down syndrome or autism is associated with the happiness of this event.

 So yes, Provence is at its best in summer, and not only that, when celestial music leads to humanity, everything makes sense.

Discover joy at the Garden’s Musical Celebration

While searching for the 12 pianos scattered throughout the 55-acre living museum, visitors are encouraged to peruse the Garden’s collections of global living plants.

There will be professional performances, participant-led open play, and community partner performances at each flower piano, showcasing a variety of genres, age groups, and cultural backgrounds. Joy, a sense of community, wonder, and hope are all brought about by the experience.

 Inspired to become Garden members, participants can take advantage of other Garden programs all year.

This yearly event, which is returning to the San Francisco Botanical Garden for a third year, offers the opportunity for anyone to sit down and play on one of the twelve pianos hidden throughout the 55 acres of the Garden at other times, as well as private performances by invited professional musicians.

Harmony in Bloom

There will be a screening of filmmaker Dean Mermell’s documentary, Twelve Pianos, about the powerful force behind Flower Piano, and an evening of superstar performers called Night Garden Piano, which aims to enchant guests while raising money to support the 12-day festival.  

Flower Piano was founded, curated, and presented by Mermell and Mauro, Fortissimo of Sunset Piano. It is further supported by private, corporate, and media sponsors and hosted by the Garden Society.

San Francisco residents and outsiders can attend the festival for free; garden admission is available to all.

Above all, Mermell is a reluctant organizer who is more at ease playing the part of a renegade cowboy and dragging abandoned pianos like stubborn mules across makeshift plywood bridges on rugged paths leading to the San Mateo Coast.

Crafting ‘Twelve Pianos – A Tale of Passion and Persistence

Little voices argued, “Film this,” and opposing, “This might take over your life,” which Mermell listened to. The 60-minute documentary is selected from over 400 hours of footage using a Canon C100 mounted with stabilizing lenses and later colour-graded by Jesse Spencer for maximum impact.

 More than just talking heads, it’s an action movie with dramatic scenes of secret piano moving and storage, breathtaking panoramas undiminished by the absurdity of pianos in the sand, and heartbreaking moments when tech culture threatens to obliterate San Francisco’s rich musical past or an instrument is destroyed by vandals.

Prominent flower piano performances by artists such as Lara Downes and fortissimo attest to skill and dedication to their craft, much like monuments do.

It demonstrates the need to preserve culture, music, and art.

 We have talented composers and performers who push piano music in all its forms.”

Exploring Flower Piano

Fortissimo is arguably the most prominent, playing his “liberated” piano (harp) with abandon, exuberance, a mallet, and an open hand.

 Benjamin Gribble improvises on a prepared acoustic piano to create sounds that one would expect from an electronic instrument, but his range is too wide to be classified as minimalist.

 While Antony Ty was playing Chopin, Mermell and Ffortissimo stumbled upon him, and the concert erupted into a raucous punk show complete with obscene yelling.

 “We just happened to stumble upon him, and he’ll do beat in the middle of classical,” Mermell says, his voice resonating with lingering amazement.

The performances include poetry, spoken word, and live painting, but Mermell also mentions classical musicians like Van-Anh Nguyen, an exceptionally talented Australian musician.

 Presentations and chamber ensembles are becoming more prevalent.

The Collective Effort Behind Success of Flower Piano

This may be why Chopin’s Polonaise always sounds fresh under a redwood tree, regardless of how many times someone has heard it.

 And people come back with tales of having learned things when they were young and then forgotten them.

They started writing music, taking classes, or just playing for fun and connection after sitting down to play at Flower Piano.

 Their tales embodied the essence of San Francisco:

 curious, daring, and astute enough to spot a hidden gem in the trees before it’s lost to all time.

Mermell, Fortissimo, Garden Society members, and numerous others who contributed to the event’s production are also rewarded with their stories.

 It requires kindhearted performers, sponsorships, anonymous and named donors, and the strength and expertise of Accurate Piano Movers.

Sunset piano

Flower Piano has had seven successful years at the San Francisco Botanical Garden despite a break in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The Garden usually has 12 beautiful pianos around the area, free for anyone to play during the week and reserved for professional performances at select times.

The Botanical Garden collaborates with Sunset Piano, a local artist duo, for placing beautiful, sculptural pianos around the Bay Area.

Musical Democracy

On the other hand, Flower Piano is a musical performance and an attraction that offers free admission to pianos and music in the lovely outdoor setting of the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

 It is free for all San Franciscans, families receiving SNAP or Cal Fresh benefits, and everyone at general admission.
Harmonizing Traditions

According to Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, “Flower Piano has established itself as one of the most exquisite, imaginative, and cherished events.”

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