NEW YORK — The sounds of summer are set to return to the streets of New York City as the annual Sing for Hope piano program launched in Lower Manhattan Monday.
And this year, you can have a piano come to you, making pop-up performances easier than ever.
An ensemble of pianists gathered Monday to celebrate the program's seventh year.
The event marks the unofficial start of the summer season for music lovers as each of the 50 pianos will be placed in parks and other landmark locations around the five boroughs.
"You know the Sing for Hope pianos are special because they help New Yorkers connect," co-founder Monica Yunus said. "And in a world where it's a little hard to see people, this is one way where music and the arts can help us do that."
Artists from around the world paint the pianos. Each work of art is distinct from the others, with its own general theme.
"The artists come together for six months here at 28 Liberty and they bring these pianos to life," co-founder Camille Zamora said. "And they're as diverse as New York City itself."
This year, Sing for Hope added a 51st piano thanks to the support of MINI, which will be driving all around the five boroughs.
"New York is such an amazing place for creativity and passion and MINI is all about bringing people together in an amazing way," said Lee Nadler, of MINI. "So, that's what we're trying to do here and what's really cool is when you put the pianos into the parks and you put this MINI piano into the streets, creativity comes to life."
While music seems to be such an integral part of life in New York, many New Yorkers aren't exposed to instruments, which is why the founders started Sing for Hope and the piano program.
"The reality is so many New Yorkers do not have access," Zamora said. "One-third of our kids do not even have arts education in their schools."
After spending the summer outdoors, all of the pianos will move inside New York City schools.