It is not Wolf Trap, but the gazebo in downtown Takoma Park does host live entertainment.
A public piano is currently installed at the gazebo as part of the Arts at Takoma Park, beckoning all those who play the instrument and all those who love its music.
The piano made its concert debut on Aug. 18, at which anyone in the audience can play the instrument and share their musical talents with a friendly audience, said Brendan Smith, the Takoma Park arts coordinator.
“No tickets are required for the free concert, and piano players do not need to register beforehand,” he said. “Just raise your hand at the concert, and you can play. It’s not a formal concert. It’s low key.”
There will be no printed programs either. Smith will be at the concert to “control traffic, deciding how long each person gets to play.”
Located in the gazebo in Carroll Avenue, the piano plans to remain at that location for about four months, officials say. Plans for its future placement are still being determined.
Smith heard about a public piano in Maine but later learned that there is an international movement. According to the website Street Pianos, more than 1,900 street pianos were installed in over 60 cities across the globe, from Tokyo to New York, bearing the simple instruction to “play me, I’m yours.” The pianos are located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations.
The Takoma Park gazebo piano is a standard upright Aeolian and donated as a gift by community resident Beverly Tang because she was relocating. It took a team of six workers to get the piano from Tang’s walk-up apartment to the gazebo.
One thing is not standard, however. The piano is now painted with original art after local artists presented new designs for the instrument in the form of a contest. The winner would not only paint their design on the instrument but would also receive a commission of $500. They could be as creative as they wanted with the theme of the design but must include aspects of diversity.
Zahava Frank, who has lived in Takoma Park her entire life, won the design contest. The recent high school grad said to have her design was exciting especially with the timing as she prepares to leave the area later this month.
“(I)am going to School of Visual Arts in New York City in the fall to study animation, so my goal is to work as a full-time artist,” said Frank. “But I’m not there yet. In high school, I was in the Visual Art Center at Albert Einstein High School, which is an incredible program that helped me greatly as an artist.”
Frank is interested in public art, the kind she executed on the piano. But she is also working on a webcomic in her free time.
“Although this project (painting the piano) is very different from what I usually work on, I have been drawing on my experience painting murals as well as designing and building sets for my school’s theater program,” Frank said. “But I was interested in doing something different from my usual artwork since I don’t get a chance to work on a big piece like this a lot.”
Frank chose acrylic paints for the project, but also added the cutout of a tree to give a three-dimensional aspect to the design. The tree is the central point of the design, with a subset behind it.
“I also wanted to portray the art and beauty of the community with bright, vibrant colors showing musicians playing across the sides of the piano,” she said.