My favorite things all came together in one gorgeous outdoor location on Valentine’s night…. a grand piano, musicians, dancers, happy people, dogs, and a spectacular sunset. It was the end of life for a piano, and she went out in grand style. Hundreds of spectators enjoyed the lingering sounds of piano music while the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and a spectacular half moon was rising over Half Moon Bay, a gorgeous coastal town south of San Francisco.
When Mauro Ffortissimo brought his piano to the Half Moon Bay blufftops, little did he know it would make the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle. Ffortissimo was given the piano in January, but it was too costly to repair to a good working condition. So he gathered some friends and they wheeled it out from his home on the ocean to the blufftops, where it enjoyed it’s remaining 10 days. Ffortissimo called it “Sunset Piano” and played it every night at sunset, ending with a farewell Valentine’s performance. Other musicians, dancers, and even poets joined his performances. I had the honor of playing just post-sunset Valentine’s night and said my final farewell to the piano I knew for such a short time.
It inspired my thoughts on the lives of pianos and the stories they have to tell. A piano is a culmination of everyone who has ever played it. Pianos can give children a music education, can provide solace and comfort during heartbreak or illness, and at other times they are a big part of joyous celebrations. Like everything else in life, they don’t last forever. Like people, they can bring people and communities together in miraculous ways at the end of life. That’s what happened this week in Half Moon Bay.
The coastal town has been my home for the last 24 years. I owned a music school on Main Street for 14 years and have been working on a global online business out of my home for the last two. When I owned my local business, I was frequently meeting with locals and business owners, volunteering to play the piano at various events in town, and I felt as if I was an integral part of my community. I didn’t realize until the gathering around the piano how much I missed that feeling. Not only did “Sunset Piano” go out in grand style, but it changed my relationship to my community and, from all of the talk around town, it seemed to have done the same for others.
NEXT: Video of Fire Dancer on Grand Piano
It was such a delight visiting with people I haven’t seen in years as well as making new local friends. The grand piano at the beach brought locals and visitors together and reminded everyone about the importance of taking a break, gathering together outdoors, and taking time to enjoy music and sunsets. More than once, I heard someone say “Only in Half Moon Bay”.
The final music scene of the night involved a spontaneous performance of a fire dancer, Alicia Vargas, on top of the grand, while I played Debussy and Chopin. Alicia and I are both avid Zumba students at FIT Studio in Half Moon Bay, yet this was the first time we performed together. The spontaneity of it somehow added to the thrill. This gives new meaning to doing anything to keep my hands warm while playing the piano outside! There is no lack of enthusiasm from the spectators either. You’ll hear a lot of hooting and hollering in the video clip of “That Girl is on Fire”.
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