Come Festival time the Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the places you can go to seek some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Even there though, the Fringe manages to extend its mighty tentacles. This year, if you want a bit of culture alongside your soothing garden stroll, you can step into the Pianodrome, a 100 seat playable ampitheatre built from reclaimed pianos, with a rotating line-up of performers. We spoke to producer Matt Wright to ask…
Where did the idea for Pianodrome come from?
Out of thin air.
What state is the project in at the moment? Do you have all the pianos you need?
A good state. We have all the pianos we need, it’s looking and sounding beautiful, all we need to do is install it on the Pyrus Lawn at the Botanics. It has taken approximately 60 pianos to build the seating – most of which have been dismantled over the last few months by over 100 volunteers.
What is the build like? Is it all being done on site at the Botanics or is there a lot of preparatory work that needs to be done beforehand?
The Pianodrome is built. Preparatory groundworks at the Botanics are progressing well, the floor went in on Tuesday, the geodesic dome went up on Thursday and then on Friday we started trucking over and assembling the big circle of tiered seating made entirely from pianos.
Where’ve you been getting the pianos from and why do they not have new homes to go to? It seems like a lot of thrown away pianos.
I know. It’s extraordinary that all these beautiful instruments were being thrown away. So far we have managed to find caring homes for a flock of upright pianos and a grand. Also there are five good pianos in the finished structure. But pianos have a limited lifespan. All of our pianos were donated by folk who were keen to get rid of them – most of them came from Edinburgh Piano Moves who previously paid someone to burn defunct instruments. It is our hope that, in the words of Brian Eno, the Pianodrome will be a “wonderful retirement home for old pianos” that we have rescued from the fire.
What’s your vision for what will happen with the Pianodrome once it’s built?
Our vision is that this extraordinary installation will unleash a cascade of creative energy in the community which will be a marvel to behold.
What do you have lined up for the launch in August?
A cornucopia of fabulous musicians, dancers and aerial acrobatics in the beautiful surroundings of one of the world’s leading botanical gardens. There’s a full line up on our website at www.pianodrome.org
And what’s the future of the Pianodrome? Will it be at the Botanics long term? Will we see other Pianodromes springing up?