Play Corvallis, Play pianos are about to hit the streets, but first a giant gift to the community must be unwrapped at 6 p.m. Friday by the riverfront downtown.
“On Friday, we want to celebrate Corvallis and the citizens for being involved in music,” said Lee Eckroth, who came up with the street piano program last year. “Our reveal that day is a gift to the community and it’s pretty special.”
After the gift is opened, theme-painted pianos will start being available for free playing in various locations around town.
Eckroth was inspired to start the event after a family vacation in Boston a few years ago. He said the city had a street pianos program and his daughter, Morgan, thought it would be cool to bring that idea to Corvallis.
A mutual friend introduced Eckroth to Dave Lundahl, organizer of the Corvallis Imagination Music and Arts Festival, and the two decided to collaborate. The idea was to use both events to generate money for art and music programs in area K-12 public schools.
Eckroth said, “I put out a message to the community in February of 2014 that there was a guy looking to collect pianos. All of sudden I had 10 pianos in my garage.”
From June until the beginning of last August, Eckroth invited local residents and volunteers to use his driveway as a studio to paint whatever theme they wanted on the pianos. Themes included an all-orange piano called the Beaver Believer, or fruits and veggies, and more. One, called Happy Hands, featured a painted handprint of every volunteer. The pianos appeared outside locations such as the public library, the Oregon State University Valley Library and the downtown American Dream Pizza on Second Street.
“Last year we were amazed with what happened with the pianos,” Lundahl says. People were planning parties around the pianos, and impromptu concerts emerged from players of all different ages.
“We were giving people the opportunity to come out of their shells and express themselves,” Eckroth says.
The pianos, each with its own sponsor, will be re-released one by one between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day in various locations until August 16. And like last year, when the pianos go away for the winter, they will be sent to different families to enjoy in their homes until next summer.