Video: Steve Nieve of Elvis Costello’s band + others in impromptu piano performances among the foliage at the Botanical Garden

Friends Alberto Paredes and Matthew McKines at the piano in the Garden of California Native Plants

Last Thursday marked the beginning of Flower Piano, a music meets the outdoors event where 12 pianos are nestled among the 55 acres of the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Anyone in the garden is welcome to sit down and play, and on select days, professional pianists will be scheduled to perform (view schedule).

Flower Piano is the brainchild of “piano ninjas” Mauro ffortissimo and Dean Mermell of Sunset Piano who back in 2013, put a piano on the bluffs in Half Moon Bay to see what would happen. Since then they’ve installed pianos in public places ranging from the top of Montara Mountain to Market Street.

Sunset’s many pianos, of all different brands and types, are instruments that didn’t fit into various owners’ lives anymore or were abandoned. The pianos are then repaired and tuned before they are set out into the elements for the community to encounter and play.

On Saturday, Steve Nieve, the longtime keyboardist for Elvis Costello, stopped by to play a bit under a tree in the Moon Viewing Garden.

Acclaimed Steinway Concert and Recording Artist Lara Downes, who has played on the world’s greatest concert stages, will perform on July 18. There will also be scheduled performances in the Garden’s century-old Redwood Grove on July 19.

Flower Piano runs through July 20, and admission to the Botanical Garden is free for all San Francisco residents (open daily from 7:30am until 6pm). Stop by and enjoy the music, or sit down and tickle the ivories yourself!

Sarah B.