Flower Piano at Night

Since 2015, the San Francisco Botanical Garden has been hosting a July event called Flower Piano at which a dozen pianos provided by Sunset Piano are placed at various points throughout the garden, open all day long for anyone who wishes to play. But don’t worry, it’s not just kids playing “Chopsticks” since real pianists have been invited, sometimes pressured, by the garden to put in shifts playing a piano. The garden is lovely anytime, but for this event it’s been groomed like a show dog.

This is a hard act to follow, but starting last year they’ve added three nighttime performances featuring competent pianists.

Still remembering how thrilled I was with Night Bloom last December, I was ecstatic to learn that Lightswitch, the astonishing folks who had lit up the Conservatory of Flowers, would be lighting Flower Piano at Night and that I could get tickets at half price since I’m a card-carrying Garden member. The only question was How Many, and I settled on three.

I invited Richard and Flynn, who were the perfect couple because Richard works as a lighting designer for Holzmueller, a San Francisco production and lighting company, and Flynn knew two of the pianists performing that night. Couldn’t get a better fit.

I rode the Segway there and sure was thankful that I’d thrown a nylon windbreaker into my pack because I was well chilled by the time I arrived. Well, see, I wasn’t about to stop on the way long enough to dig the jacket out and put it on.

Members were admitted early, but the gates to the garden opened for everyone else promptly at 8:00 while there was still quite a lot of twilight left, which made it easier to get your bearings. What also made it easier is that Richard and Flynn are young, so I could turn all navigation over to them.

The evening was magical as we wandered through the garden on pathways bordered with little lights from one gorgeously illuminated piano to another. It was an evening full of music and camaraderie, with food trucks and hot and cold beverages. I just love the communality of large public gatherings like this where everyone is gathered for some son et lumière.

I searched for reviews of the event to get an estimate of the number of attendees, but nowhere did I find one. Not that it would be easy for an attendee. I’m hoping to get some information on ticket sales, but for now I’ll just say that there were hundreds of non-members lined up waiting for the gates to open when I arrived at 7:45.

Meanwhile, since I forgot my camera, here’s a pic of one of the pianos by Funcheap. Love that Tillandsia usneoides framing the pianist.

Photo by Funcheap


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