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The art of music

Bringing music and art to Oshawa's public spaces

The City of Oshawa has unveiled the first of three public pianos as part of its 88 Keys Project. The first, in Oshawa's Civic Square, got a few test runs from local musicians, including Joel Zhang, seen here taking his turn at the keys.

The City of Oshawa has unveiled the first of three public pianos as part of its 88 Keys Project. The first, in Oshawa’s Civic Square, got a few test runs from local musicians, including Joel Zhang, seen here taking his turn at the keys.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The next time you walk by city hall, keep your ears open – you may be able to hear something a little nicer than the traffic on Centre Street.

On July 28, the City of Oshawa unveiled the first of three painted pianos as part of its newly launched 88 Keys project.

The first piano, located in the city’s Civic Square, was painted by artist Monique Ra Brant and adds a serious splash of colour to the public space.

Projects of similar ilk having been taking over public spaces across the world in recent years, with beautifully decorated pianos seen in public spaces from London, UK to Victoria, BC and Manhattan.

“Now, there’s three more pianos in Oshawa, what a great story,” said Mayor of Oshawa John Henry during the launch of the event.

Artist Monique Ra Brant and Mayor John Henry lift the cover on the first piece of the 88 Keys project. Inspired by similar initiatives around the globe, the 88 Keys project will see three painted pianos placed throughout Oshawa, free to play and admire.

Artist Monique Ra Brant and Mayor John Henry lift the cover on the first piece of the 88 Keys project. Inspired by similar initiatives around the globe, the 88 Keys project will see three painted pianos placed throughout Oshawa, free to play and admire.

The mayor encouraged residents to take full advantage of the piano, which will call Civic Square home during the warmer months of the year.

“It brings another atmosphere to our civic square,” he said. “Can you imagine just walking over and listening to some amazing music in the heart of downtown?”

“Take the time, play a tune, have some fun (and) let other people have fun listening,” he added

For Ra Brent, the artist behind the piano’s paint job, the project holds a special place in her heart following a personal experience involving another public piano.

During a road trip, Ra Brent and her friend were walking the streets of Montreal when they came across a piano. Her friend sat down and began to play.

“I can’t even describe the feelings that I had to be present for this impromptu musical performance and the spirit that made itself present in that square, and people started collecting,” she recalls.

“When I heard about the 88 Keys project, I felt like this was something I really wanted to be a part of.”

The city is set to unveil the second of the three pianos on Wednesday, Aug. 3, starting at 1:30 p.m. at the South Oshawa Community Centre. The third and final piano will be unveiled at the Northview Community Centre on Aug. 4 at 1 p.m.