Good news, Lynchburg! “Hill City Keys” will be returning to downtown for the third year, with nine newly painted, eye-popping pianos being unveiled on First Friday, May 6. So please come on out and celebrate as area pianists, both students and pros, give generously of their time and talent to regale us with beautiful music from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
The schools that participated this year are Liberty University; E.C. Glass, Heritage, Brookville and Altavista high schools; and Linkhorne, Dunbar, Sandusky and James River Day middle schools. As for the past two years, I am so amazed by and grateful for the remarkable talent and creativity that resides in this area. These art students, guided by their dedicated art teachers, have once again given us a gift that will bring hours of joy, fun and memories to residents and visitors alike. It is a civic contribution, of which they and their schools should be immensely proud.
A huge thank you goes to the businesses that will be “hosting” and so kindly caring for the pianos: The Visitors Center at the corner of 12th and Church streets, Community Market, Kegney Brothers Irish Pub, Schewels Furniture, Absolute Bridal and Formal, The Galleria, Bank of the James, Amazement Square and The Academy Center of the Arts by the Warehouse Theatre on Commerce Street. And thanks as always to the thoughtful folks who donated their pianos.
There are once again so many people to thank for making this wonderful urban art and music project possible. Top on the list is Home Depot and Michael Riley, who so generously provided all the paint and supplies to nine schools. And T.J. Matthews, piano technician and tuner, who will work his magic to make old, out of tune pianos playable. And Perry’s Pianos, who so ably moves these heavy instruments hither and yon. Distinguished artist Kevin Chadwick has repainted the two piano shelters and they are also works of art!
This year for the first time, “Keys” is sponsored by the Academy Center of the Arts, which provides 501(c)(3) tax deductibility for those who would like to support the project. My hope is to raise funds not only to cover the expenses of moving, tuning, maintaining and publicizing the pianos, but to support the Academy’s new and exciting outreach programs into the community that will bring enriching and life changing experiences to so many who might not otherwise have them. And so all contributions from the community toward this effort are encouraged and most welcome.
Plans are in the works for frequent programming around the pianos for the next six months — jam sessions with local musicians, church pianists and choirs, perhaps free piano lessons for children. They are your pianos, so play away! Let’s bring downtown alive with sounds that lift spirits and brighten lives — “magical music moments,” as I call them.
Our area art students have given us something unique to be cherished. Now I am even hoping they might be a catalyst for a sprucing up of downtown — store owners cleaning up their storefronts, painting, weeding nearby plots, planting their flowerpots and residents picking up trash. All of this toward creating a more enchanting downtown and building pride in the city we love.