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One Question Q&A: The (Flower) Piano Man

Sometimes one question is all you need.


Calling all you budding Beethovens, Elton Johns, and Ramsey Lewises: This month marks the return of Flower Piano, the 12-day installation in which a dozen pianos are scattered among the redwoods and rhododendrons of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, totally free for city residents—amateurs and professionals alike—to make music with. The project’s cofounder, Dean Mermell, explains how the instruments are able to shine through the famous Sunset fog. 

How do you keep the pianos from going wildly out of tune?
The weather does affect them. It’s not a piece of furniture that’s designed to be out in a garden. But somehow we’ve managed to keep them together. We have a team of tuners, but I make my rounds in the morning, too. Last year, I’d play a piano at 8 a.m. and be like, ‘Wow, how is this going to sound today?’ But we open it up—you can actually see steam come out of it—and by 11 a.m., the piano is working great.”

The pianos will be out from July 7 to 18 at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. 


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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