Saturday, 25 October 2014

Art project sees pianos on the city streets

By Kirsty Rigg | Prague Daily Monitor |
9 September 2013

If you take a walk through the streets of Prague this month, you might find there is music in the air - and not in the usual way.

In fact, pianos have been placed around the city streets, public spaces and train stations as part of an unusual art project aimed at getting people together away from their typical routine.

As of this Monday (September 2), a total of 12 pianos have been dotted around various locations including Hlavní Nadraží train station, Naměstí Míru, and the Faculty of Philosophy (Charles University) in Staromestská, where people are coming in their hundreds to try them out.

The mastermind behind the project, Ondrej Kobza, is a quirky and well known figure in the Prague underground community, as well as a popular bar owner, and he says that this project is changing the face of Prague's social scene.

Kobza, who owns string of bars, including Bajkazyl and Cafe V Lese, told the Prague Post: “About two years ago I put a piano outside Cafe V Lese as a test, to see what would happen. It was incredible to see just how much it changed the atmosphere, and how people come together through music. Instead of sitting there watching cars go by, people got involved, played together, and created such a wonderful feeling.”

Mr. Kobza admitted that the first reaction to his offbeat idea was confusion and even dismay. He added: “People thought I was a little crazy at first. I remember putting a request in for a piano in Hlavní Nadraží station, and I could see that people thought it was a little weird. I asked to try it, just for a couple of days, but it has been such a success that I'm hoping to keep it going until Christmas, until the weather forces me to stop it”.

The most recent piano appearance from this week are is Kampa island, in the park area, which is expected to draw in large numbers of tourists as well as locals.

Mr. Kobza continued: “All my life I have been attracted to the outdoors, to public space. Having visited places like Berlin, where you can see real life connecting in the streets, I wanted to bring something like that here.

“I'm very proud of Czech people. I think we are quite musical and not afraid to try something new.”

Jan Kolaček, piano teacher and founder of EasyPiano.cz, spoke of his delight in hearing of the project: “I have already played on the piano placed at Bajkazyl, as I live nearby. I find it interesting how the sound of the pianos in the street, especially on Staroměstká, combine with the sound of heavy traffic which is all around. I am quite curious as to which songs and which type of music makes people stop in their busy day”.

A full map of the pianos and details on how to find them can be found on Mr. Kobza's website, called Piana na ulici (pianos in the street) – http://www.piananaulici.cz