The First time I remember seeing an abandoned piano was in Boston as I was heading to a Red-Sox game with Mark Moriarty on those back streets leading from Marks apartment which was much closer to the ball park than my own digs over on Commonwealth near Boston University. We stood for more than a few minutes looking at the sad remains of what was once a piano that at one point was certainly shiny and new, now weathered brutally with most of the guts of the piano missing.
Since the ‘Sox’ were calling, that was the last I saw of that piano but it is always some how with me as a reminder that almost no one has any idea what to do with an old piano!
Flash forward to tuning for the Washington D.C. public schools when one morning I got a call to go look at some pianos that equipment maintenance had picked up from various school buildings and left all weekend on the open flatbed truck in the rain (unbeleiveable but it happened). Of course the pianos were totaled and sadly were driven off to the dump, another memory that is with me to this day and again no 2nd life for a piano that has seen the end of days.
Then I came upon a short article in a gardening magazine that covered a wonderful story on what to do with an old piano that really never again will live the glory days of past.
The plan is basically to remove the piano plate and mount the plate on a display frame and then mirror the angles of the plate in the layout of the planting rows of the garden, transforming a small space into the essence of the piano.
This piano essence will endure as the piano plate with a good coat of paint should do fine outside and give the piano a final resting place that perhaps is more proper that a land fill.
Here are the few wonderful images by Ned O’Gorman that show the basic layout of the garden and the blue print of the design by Keith Corlett that you see above for the postage stamp size garden with the gardens harmonic curves and the Laffargue upright piano harp that inspired it all. Arborvitae and purple beech “piano pegs”end at a fountain.
Impatiens, Russian Sage, Delphinium, Asiatic Lilies and Ligularia “Skyrocket” in the piano garden. Slender Ailanthus trees dubbed Bronx Palms by Corlett is comfortable even on the hottest days. Additional plantings include Wisteria, Clematis and Trumpet Vines that eventually died and were replaced.
Perhaps a secret garden was never finer than this healing piano garden, to ponder, to dream, and to quote Yeats, ‘In dreams begins responsibility’.
Washington DC Kennedy Center Sets the Stage for Learning
A video tour for kids
In Washington DC Associate Conductor Emil de Cou on tour said the Kennedy Center is a living memorial to John F Kennedy. When I say Memorial I mean the Kennedy Center is more than just a building. It’s a place for dance, plays, where concerts happen everyday. When people come for a performance they help bring the memorial to life.
I hear you can come see us perform at the concert hall. Let me show you around
This is the Kennedy Center Plaza. It’s filled with art work, reflecting pools and fountains, and on the day you’re going to visit us school buses too!
There’s a whole lot more to see inside …lets go!
The first thing you should know about the Kennedy Center is that it’s a real big place. This is the Hall of Nations. It got its name from all the international flags hanging above my head. See how many you can pick out. Over there is the stage door. That’s where the musicians and I go to work but it’s off limits to most people
That’s the Grand Foyer lets go check it out. What’s a foyer you ask, just a fancy name for a lobby. This is the grand foyer because it’s the entry way to the Kennedy Centers three largest performing halls- the Eisenhower Theater, the Opera House and the Concert Hall. This foyer is so long that the Washington Monument can lie on its side and there would still be room for a herd of cows. But enough about the grand foyer, lets go inside the concert hall, that’s my favorite part.
Oh yeah, when you come here with your school, the teacher will meet an usher and they will show you to your seat. But when you come here with your family the usher will take your ticket and put it right here in this box.
This is the concert hall, it’s an amazing place isn’t it? Over 2400 people can watch a performance from here, that’s like thirty five buses filled with kids and 45 baseball teams plus another sixty families of four. No matter what seat you get on any of the concert halls four levels, you’ll have a great view of the performers on stage. Lets walk down to the stage and I’ll point out some more interesting features
The scene on concert day will be different from what you see now. The musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra will be in those empty chairs on stage and you, along with a couple thousand other people will be part of our audience.
Behind those walls over there is the conductors dressing room and the musicians lounge but that whole area back there is off limits to the public. The stage I’m sitting on is made of wood like those hi-tech panels that are hanging above me and the floor beneath all the seats and the seat backs. The wood through out the concert hall helps the music travel to each seat as the musicians play their instruments, the sound they create bounces off the wood and is sent toward the listener.
Other materials could have been chosen like carpet or metal. Carpet, however, absorbs to much sound and metal makes the sound bounce to much. The natural properties of wood absorb a small amount of sound and send just the right amount toward the listener.
You probably noticed those pipes on the wall behind me. They’re part of a very large organ that is played at some of the concerts here.There are over four thousand pipes, some as small as your pinky, others as large as a telephone pole.
Whelp, that about wraps it up. I’m sorry I couldn’t show you everything but there are rules. On behalf of the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center I look forward to seeing you at our concerts
Your not gone yet are you? If we hurry we can take a look at some of the places most people never get to see, so here we are now at the backstage area of the concert hall. Over there is where the musicians hang out and this over here is my dressing room, you can study, play piano or even take a nap.
O k, I think the coast is clear, this way ! Right before the concert begins I stand here ready to walk on stage, the door opens and I join the musicians on stage to thunderous applauses (we like that part) And here I am on the podium in front of thousands of concert goers, I bow to the audience then I turn to the musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra and we all share in the applause. It’s really fun, then I go to work. It’s really fun conducting that is, It’s important for me to show energy and excitement when I’m conducting the orchestra. They’ll know just how to play the music
Well I guess we better stop here and I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes look at the Kennedy Center and don’t tell anyone we’ve been sneaking around the concert hall. I’ll see you at the concert
for more information or to learn how you can help contact
The Education Department of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Washington DC
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