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It’s catching on! Now Chicago has an airport pianist

After yesterday’s discovery of a homeless piano player inside London’s Eurostar terminal, a young man, identity unknown, has taken up residence beside the check-ins at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport. No room at the inn, perhaps?

The piano and the player have some way to go before they match Minnesota or Amsterdam.

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  1. Interesting. I remember when US Airways hired me through my Alma Mater, Thd Juilliard School, to play a little piano for the opening of their new terminal at JFK Airport–for ten hours! That was a nice gig. I remember playing Mozart Sonatas with all the repeats and lots of showtunes. And a nice, long sleep after all of that.

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Did you ever work at Nordstrom’s? I have heard some pretty good ivory ticklers there, too. Unfortunately, they seem to be phasing out that unique perk for shoppers. What will they do with all those Steinways? The bottom line trumps class one more time.

      • Mr. Fitzpatrick–not at Nordstrom’s, but many other places! In San Francisco, where I was raised, my piano teacher played at Nordstrom’s. He was pretty impressive pianist to my young ears, and I never found it too irritating to earn money playing piano!

        • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

          Yes, playing piano beats most alternatives. But I’m sure you know what the Curtis pianist says to the Juilliard pianist when they meet at McDonalds: “Would you like fries with that?”

  2. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    As you may know, the Paris transportation system (RATP) actually has an audition committee to authorize those who play everything from classical to hip-hop and beyond in the corridors of the major Metro stops. The legal musicians display their “license.” Some are incredibly talented and draw crowds and seem to have some income. I just passed an Asian cellist (not a kid) playing Bach solo works at a decent level at Palais Royal- Musée du Louvre where he seems to hold court every day. There are also clandestine musical groups who perform in the trains which are generally less than mediocre and actually seem to annoy most travelers.

    The now rather well-known cross-over group “Time for 3″ ( began as a group of Festival students performing on the streets and in the cafes of Verbier in summer of 1998 and 1999. We also know one of the violinists as the Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony.

    The point is that the strategic use of live good music in unusual places, whatever the genre, “sells” well when the quality is high and the performers are motivated. I wish that more young members of major American orchs would engage in these activities, not to swell the pay check, but to proselytize for their art.

    • “Busking” is as old as performance. It still thrives in the North American Renaissance Festival world, of which there are more than 100 festivals. Don’t be fooled – there is much more than pocket change to be earned in busking.

      The classical players I know are generally connected to orchestras or conservatories. Very few seem adventurous enough to seriously try it. They have expectations of regular paychecks and a distinguished setting. When you look at the actions of management of American orchestras these days, busking may be more reliable.

  3. Brian Hughes says:

    For what it’s worth, I managed to get through my undergraduate days by playing Saturday nights at the country club while leading a church choir on Sunday mornings. Yes, it was reliable work both days!

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