Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Gift of Music in Santa Lucia Train Station

Playing piano within sight of the Grand Canal
The most welcome arrival to show up at Venice's Santa Lucia train station last Thursday was not a person but a piano.

Donated to the city by the singer and composer Sofia Taliani it is, according to a piece in yesterday's La Nuova di Venezia by Vera Mantengoli (l-irresistibile-pianoforte-della-stazione), the first step of the United Streets Piano Project, which aims to install a free public piano in every train station in Italy.

In the Santa Lucia station it was installed just to the left of the main entrance, beneath two lighted boards of arrivals and departures. Venice's piano appears to be the latest iteration of the British artist Luke Jerram's installation "Play Me, I'm Yours", which has inspired the placement of over 1,300 pianos in public spaces in 45 cities around the world. You can read more about the work, and even contact the artist about setting up a piano in your own city, at

For some reason, Venice is not included on the list of cities hosting the work in 2014 on the website above, nor is the artist mentioned on the Facebook page of United Street Pianos Italia (United-Street-Pianos-Italia, where you can see images and video of the piano being transported to, installed in and played at Santa Lucia). But in spite of these oversights, the British artist's project and the project here in Venice do seem connected.

In any case, anyone is free to play the piano as long as she or he wants, though, if my observation yesterday is representative, it's not unusual for one or two people among the smaller or larger crowd that often gathers around a player to be waiting their turn.

Musicians of various ages and skill levels have a go at the instrument. But regardless of what and how they play, each seems to construct (or at least suggest) note by note a whole other order of time than the hustling bustling everyday sort of arrivals and departures. Creating a space like a long sigh amid all the hurried panting, a tenuous chapel of tones.  


  1. Replies
    1. I think so, too, Andrew. It has a nice effect on the space.

  2. That's just wonderful. I look forward to hearing (not playing) this piano.

    1. Oh, come on, Yvonne, don't be shy. The local newspaper article sited above concludes by quoting some luminary to the effect that an instrument can never make noise, only sounds!