Playing Piano…in the Park!

World-famous pianist, Anton Nel, encountered one of the pianos on a hike around Lady Bird Lake

If you’re a fan of the parks and trails around downtown Austin, then you might have noticed random pianos popping up all over… available for anyone to play, at any time of day!

It’s all a part of a delightful conspiracy to provide music where you least expect it, featuring any artist who decides to play. Located throughout downtown in public parks, streets and squares, the pianos are for any member of the public to play. The pianos are also for the public to decorate and personalize.

Well, this is the last weekend to enjoy the pianos, so a few of us from KMFA decided to visit the one in Butler Park. It was such a beautiful day on Thursday!

Sarah playing piano in front of the Austin skyline

We climbed to the top of Doug Sahm Hill (I think Doug would have been pleased with the psychedelic painted dinosaurs on the side of the piano) and Sarah Addison, who is our resident expert in piano playing, gave her best attempt on this funky, outdoors piano, while we all got to admire the fabulous skyline and listen to a Beethoven backdrop.

Claire and Kelsey wish they'd paid better attention in piano classes when they were kids

one cheerfully painted piano

You can read more about this effort, as well as see some adorable photos and videos, at the website Play Me I’m Yours.” They also have a map where each of the pianos is located. Go find one this weekend! 🙂 You’ll be surprised how nice a piano sounds outdoors in Austin’s wonderful springtime weather.

Another favorite Austin piano player, Marcia Ball, tries out a street piano

~ posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

KMFA wishes the Austin Symphony a Happy 100th Birthday!

On Tuesday, April 25th, 1911, the Austin Symphony Orchestra had its first performance, and KMFA celebrates this 100th Anniversary with a special program: A.S.O. 100!

When I listened to the interview portion, I was surprised to learn some interesting facts: I learned about the first-ever Drive-in Symphony Concert in the United States, as well as Monday night performances in the Coliseum after a weekend stockade show, and other “batty” and sublime moments.

On this program, KMFA’s Dianne Donovan visits with her guests: Maestro Peter Bay, Artistic Director and Conductor of the A.S.O.; Anthony Corroa, Executive Director of the A.S.O.; Joan Holtzman, Board Secretary, Charter Member of Women’s Symphony League, and de facto A.S.O. historian; and Eugene Gratovich, Associate Concertmaster (member of the A.S.O for 24 years), The Roy E. & Linda S. Bush Associate Concertmaster.

The show airs twice: Saturday, April 23rd, 9pm, Wednesday, April 27th, 8pm. If you missed the show, you can still hear the interview portion archived on our website.

~posted by Alison @ KMFA  😉

Preview: KMFA’s trip to New York City

~ submitted by Claire Wiley, KMFA office and production admin

Tomorrow morning, 21 excited travelers will embark on the KMFA trip to New York City for 10 magical days. Their itinerary is filled with classical music, fine art, and fine dining…you can read more about the fun they’ll be having here on the website.

I visited the Big Apple over the holidays, and knowing that KMFA was planning a tour to NYC, I thought I’d do a little reconnaissance first-hand…here are some of the pictures. I know they’re going to have a great time… we sure did!

Wandering through the Upper East Side, we happened upon the Plaza Athenee hotel, where the KMFA tour will be staying. Its pleasantly situated along a quiet street of beautiful row houses and apartments just off of Madison Avenue’s fabulous shopping district.

Coming out of New York’s public library we stumbled upon Bryant Park, which ended up being one of my favorite spots in the city. It offers great shopping in quaint semi-permanent stalls, and stunning views of some of New York’s most beautiful early skyscrapers.

The Museum of Modern Art was one of the definite highlights of our trip. We saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Monet’s Water lilies and other favorites by Picasso, Matisse, Pollack and Warhol (see next photo).

From one of the upper levels of the MoMA we witnessed a fantastic performance art piece. Standing in the middle, this performer guided his piano throughout the atrium playing a movement of Beethoven’s Ninth.

Street performers abound in Central Park; this accordion player made our stroll down the park’s literary walk feel even more like a storybook.

Our Christmas in New York would not be complete without a trip to Radio City Music Hall to see the famous Rockettes. But the Hall itself, sitting in Rockefeller Center, is a fun landmark any time of year.

This performer was singing opera tunes next to the enchanting Bethesda Fountain in Central Park...

...he promised me a photograph only if I would join him in a round of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Another planned stop on the KMFA tour: the bright lights of Times Square lit our way along Broadway to the Gershwin Theater where we saw a fantastic musical.

Chelsea is known for its wonderful art galleries, but New York artists in this neighborhood do not confine themselves to just canvases! We had a lot of fun discovering street art throughout the city.

Our view from the plane at sunset. Good-bye New York!

Opera singers from ALO’s “Flight” visit KMFA studios

On the KMFA program Classical Austin, host Dianne Donovan introduces us to some of the creative leadership behind some of our favorite Classically Austin arts events.

Last Wednesday, the spotlight was on Austin Lyric Opera’s upcoming performance of Flight. Joining Dianne in the KMFA studio were two performers, Mela Sarajane Dailey (as “Tina”) and Nick Zammit (as “refugee”), as well as the composer, Jonathan Dove. If you missed the episode, you can hear the interview portion here.

Mela Sarajane Dailey, Dianne Donovan, Jonathan Dove, and Nick Zammit.

It’s always exciting to meet the stars in person, but it’s very rare to meet the living, breathing composer! To hear him discuss his opera was a real treat.

~posted by Alison @ KMFA 🙂