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Student playing all 75 pianos in Boston

UPDATE (10/7/13): Due to inclement weather, many of the pianos James Kennedy ’14 attempted to play were locked and inaccessible over the weekend. On Columbus Day, Monday, October 14, at 5:00 pm, Kennedy is expected to play the Boston Common piano, across the street from Emerson, to “close out the journey,” according to his Facebook page.

An Emerson student is bringing his musical talent to all corners of Boston this Saturday, October 5, as he attempts to play all 75 pianos recently set up on city streets as part of the Play Me, I’m Yours project.

James Kennedy ’14 will heavily promote his melodious mission on social media, using his Twitter handle (@jamesholod), Twitter hashtag (#75pianos1james), and Facebook page to post live photos and information—including what location he plans to visit next.



James Kennedy '14 will attempt to play all 75 pianos currently on the sidewalks of Boston. (Courtesy photo)

“The idea is throughout the day to keep people updated on where we’re going to be,” said Kennedy, a Theatre Studies major, “and they can join in where they want and hopefully sing a little bit.”

As of noon Friday, 151 people indicated on Facebook they plan to watch Kennedy play.

“I love playing so much,” Kennedy said. “Everybody has songs that they like, so everyone can get involved.”

Kennedy will begin at about 10:00 am and continue all day, ending at Boston Common, right across the street from the Emerson campus. He will begin at the most remote locations, including Logan Airport, before ending downtown.



A woman plays the piano on a public street in London, England, in 2009 as part of the Play Me, I'm Yours arts project. (Courtesy Photo)

The 21-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina, native has been playing piano since he was 6. For the past three years, he’s played the instrument at Emerson President Lee Pelton’s “President’s Welcome” assembly for incoming freshmen.

Students and Emerson community members have compiled a 75-song set list. Many of them are tunes Kennedy has not played before.

Pelton requested “A Well Respected Man” by The Kinks, Dean of Students Ron Ludman asked for “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel, and the Office of Student Life requested the Emerson College Alma Mater.

“I’m tracking down the sheet music for the ones I don’t have,” Kennedy said. “The way it will work is, each song has a number, and we’re going to use a random number generator app on our phones to select the songs. We’ll never really know what’s coming next.”

Play Me, I’m Yours first began in 2008 by artist Luke Jerram and has occurred in 41 cities worldwide since. The Boston event is sponsored by Celebrity Series of Boston.

“When I heard the pianos were coming to Boston, I thought, ‘Wow, what a fascinating project,’” Kennedy said. “I love free art activities that engage the community.”

Learn more about Play Me, I’m Yours.

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