Leaving pianos out on city streets might seem like a crazy idea, but there’s definitely a method to the madness. It’s been tried in a number of cities around the world, including Montreal, where a college student gave an amazing performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” as arranged for piano.
In Montreal, the urban piano project “Piano des Villes, piano des champs” (Piano of the Cities, Piano of the Fields) was a collaboration between cultural organizations, local business groups, and the city government. For a few weeks in the summer, artistically decorated pianos were placed on streets in various parts of town, each associated with a pianist who would appear a few times to give a recital. One piano was placed at a plaza high up on Mont-Royal, a hill with panoramic views of the city. That’s where college student Ariane Racicot sat down to treat the lucky people who happened to be there to “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Freddie Mercury wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody” for Queen’s 1975 album “A Night at the Opera.” The song’s format is a bit unusual, with several segments each in a different style: ballad, opera, and hard rock. It became Queen’s anthem and indeed, possibly the most iconic rock song ever. The band’s promotional video was essentially the first modern music video and according to Rolling Stone, its importance “cannot be overstated, practically inventing the music video seven years before MTV went on the air.”
Ariane played the song entirely from memory and the performance left her outdoor audience greatly impressed. Just watching, you can see how she really threw herself into the complex piece, without being distracted by playing in an almost surreal location.