August 24, 2018

Pianos for the Public

Tomoko appreciates how music brings people together. And she also appreciates when people spontaneously perform the piano in public places. “Societies love music, and they always have,” says Tomoko. Here are a few examples she has experienced or heard about.

For instance, Tomoko remembers having her students play at San Francisco’s City Hall. “There were 200 people listening, many of whom were homeless. One of the homeless men asked if he could play, and we let him. He played very well, and it made his day.” Tomoko remarks, “I like homeless people more because of that musical connection.” 

The space in which the piano is performed impacts the listening experience. Tomoko especially likes the European cathedrals in which concerts occur, emphasizing the community experience. She also mentions an entirely open environment; San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park now has an open-air piano for anyone to play. 

Pianos that may be played by anyone are appearing in shopping malls and airports. 

Several libraries provide pianos to play on. At the main Auckland Public Library, a well-used upright piano is wheeled out each day for library users and passers-by to play. Some Swedish public libraries, such as in Goteborg and Malmo, provide music rooms with electronic keyboards. 

British artist Luke Jerram has a project called “Play Me, I’m Yours,” which installed more than 1900 street pianos in over cities around the world. The pianos are decorated by local arts, and the public is encouraged to share their love of music.

Tomoko would applaud these public piano initiatives. She asserts, “Music is a natural urge, and a way for people to express their commonalities and celebrate.”

August 21, 2018

Carmel's Bach Festival

One of Tomoko’s strong memories about music festival performance takes place in California by the sea: the now tourist mecca Carmel.
When she performed there, Carmel was a simpler but popular town. A big event back then was a sandcastle contest, begun in 1961. Nevertheless it was already known as an arts colony, visited by authors such as Jack Long and Upton Sinclair. Carmel’s Arts and Crafts Club was established in 1905, and profited from the San Francisco 1906 earthquake as creative people moved to Carmel’s safety. Shakespeare plays were also a mainstay from 1911.
And the Bach Festival was well established by the time Tomoko experienced it. The festival began in 1935, and even then featured four days of concerts. By the time Tomoko participated, the festival had transformed from an amateur to a professional venue. Now it has grown to two weeks of performances and learning in July, with worldwide participation.
From the beginning the Bach festival at Carmel was strongly supported by the community. Tomoko remembers a 96 year old lady who was a regular concert goer. She opened her home to festival performers, and provide them her personal service as a thank you to the visiting musicians.
Tomoko especially appreciated the mutual appreciation and support of music experienced at the Bach Festival. With his range of compositions and his own role in the community, Bach would have felt comfortable with the Carmel celebration and its venue for universal connections.