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Why Pianos Are Taking Over San Francisco This Summer
Kathryn Rummel

San Francisco offers a number of free musical performances throughout the year, but here’s one we bet you haven’t heard of. 

For 12 days this month, the city’s botanical garden will become an outdoor concert hall as part of Flower Piano, the latest project by musical duo Sunset Piano. Mauro ffortissimo and Dean Mermell will wheel twelve 800-pound pianos--all different brands and types--to various locations throughout the 55-acre flower-filled grounds and set them up for anyone to sit down and play a tune.

It’s free to play or listen (with regular garden admission; free for SF residents), and everyone is encouraged to try their hands. On select days, professional pianists, including acclaimed Steinway artist Lara Downes (July 18), will perform for the public.

Sunset Piano has been experimenting with music in nature since 2013, when they stealthily rolled an old grand piano onto the bluffs over Half Moon Bay. Thousands came to listen before the county shut it down.

Lucky for us, they’ve since been granted approval by SF parks and rec, so you can take advantage of this unique experience risk-free and bang out anything from "Chopsticks" to Chopin.

July 9 to 20, with scheduled performances on July 11, 12, 18 and 19; San Francisco Botanical Garden, 1199 Ninth Ave.; 415-661-1316 or

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