Audience and players flock Flower Piano reopening after over 2-year absence

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Three-year-old Liam Ramakrishnan has never laid his fingers on the piano keyboards. But he found himself in the Schafer & Sons keys on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Great Meadow as the audience began to pop around. The kid positioned before the professional started the show and regular audiences were happy to hear him beat the keys as after more than two years, the famous tradition at the San Francisco Botanical Garden is back.

“It’s my favorite activity in San Francisco,” Alexandra, the 3-year-old boy’s mother said. “It’s nice they brought it back. It’s a very unique event which is why we love it,” she said, having attended each Flower Piano.

The event, which was usually celebrated in July, was last performed in 2019. People have flocked the venue since its return on Friday, having gathered audiences with lines reaching the Martin Luther King Drive and toward the Golden Gate Park’s Lincoln Way boundary on Sunday.

Since the COVID-19 broke out, Flower Piano became the first-ever public program staged at the Botanical Garden.

“When the pianos were set up on Wednesday, I got teary,” garden’s board chair Delle Maxwell said in her speech.

Two professionals are performing for an hour each daily for the concerts. The platform is open for anyone who would like to share their music for the rest of the day – whether they are amateurs, professionals, or hopefuls.

43-year-old Paul Hogarth was supposed to perform at Martuni’s piano bar on his birthday last year, March 27. Unfortunately, it was canceled. He used his 1928 Baldwin Grand Piano in a Nob Hill studio apartment instead, but it was too small that he also used the musical instrument as a couch. He did live performances through Facebook but he missed the feeling of having an audience before him when he performs. On Friday’s opening, Hogarth showed up at the Flower Piano, armed with his piano-inspired footwear and his gadget containing his 26 show tunes list, San Francisco Chronicle reported.

 “It’s fantastic to be back,” he said after his “La Cage Aux Folles” performance. “This is my third day in a row. I get here at 10 and I play until 6.”