Pianos take over SF botanical gardens for ‘Flower Piano' event

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) Nature lovers with a knack for playing the piano are in luck as the fourth annual Flower Piano festival kicked off this week, lasting for the next 12 days at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park.

During the outdoor event, the botanical garden will be transformed into one large outdoor concert hall, with 12 pianos placed throughout the 55-acre grounds. Guests will be encouraged to play on them.

The public can play on any piano within the garden daily between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. On certain days, however, there will be performances.

On weekend days, the event will turn into Sunset Piano, as scores of professional pianists and other musicians will perform throughout the garden, as the public enjoys the shows. Weekend days will also feature poetry and musical collaborations, the event's organizers said.

From noon to 2 p.m. on the next two Saturdays, July 7 and July 14, invited performers will take over all 12 pianos, and guests are encouraged to hop around the garden from piano to piano.

Weekends at Flower Piano will also include family-friendly events such as a character scavenger hunt, musical-themed story times and a Bean Sprout Family Days event with miniature pianos in the Children's Garden. 

Special yoga and moving meditation classes will also be held for adults during the event, organizers said.

Perhaps the biggest attraction at Flower Piano will be the NightGarden Piano, a three-night event set for July 12, 13 and 14.

NightGarden Piano, which sold out last year, features lighted pathways to guide guests to the pianos being played by Sunset Piano all-stars, as well as pianos open to play. 

Tickets for the NightGarden events are $45, and all proceeds go toward helping fund Flower Piano, according to organizers.

"The welcoming act of placing pianos in the garden has a real impact on the way in which people interact with each other and take notice of their surroundings," said Stephanie Linder the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society's executive director. "We often talk about the garden as an oasis in the heart of the city."

Added Sunset Piano's Dean Mermell, "Flower Piano may be the world's only interactive music festival - interactive between music and nature, as well as between audience and performer. It continues to evolve and grow with new musicians, like unexpected flowers in your garden.

"This year is going to be the most diverse yet, in every way. We're really excited to share our idea of utopia with everyone," Mermell said.

Flower Piano is free with regular admission to the Botanical Garden, but select events such as the NightGarden Piano event require separate tickets. The Botanical Garden is open to members and San Francisco residents free of charge.

For more information and a schedule of the performances and programs, guests can visits www.sfbg.org/flowerpiano.