Elton John’s piano inspires #ThumbsUpFor Uganda piano tour

In February 2016 Elton John wowed commuters passing through St Pancras, with a surprise performance at the station, and even donated the Yamaha B3 Piano to the station signed; “Enjoy this piano. It’s a gift. Love, Elton John x“.

Often rough-sleepers or on low income, King’s Cross’ street pianists are able to find camaraderie amongst themselves, and have formed somewhat a community of their own, many-a-time gathering late at night till the early hours of the morning playing on St Pancras’ 24hr accessible pianos. What the ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ multiple Grammy-winning icon may not be aware of, is the impact of his generous contribution to street piano players in the local area of King Cross, causing a ripple effect to Uganda through a particular pianist…

The community of street piano players offer commuters a free concert; from those heading into work or home, to those arriving into London fresh off the EuroStart. Their contribution towards commuters’ well being shouldn’t go unnoticed. It was Fabio Tedde, also known as Pianist Without Borders, who introduced me to the world of community street pianists. On the first day we meet, I was convinced to ‘come see for yourself’ and headed down to Kings Cross with him where I got my first piano lesson. Luckily I was carrying my camera so I recorded a spontaneous interview, and captured the moment Fabio first shared his ambition to tour with a piano in East Africa!

Originally from Sardinia, Fabio shared with me that he’s played over 750 street pianos giving free concerts to the most marginalised in communities. “I love bringing people together… Since I was young I just loved helping people, but now I want to take it to the next level”

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Camp Ndegeya – Uganda 2016
Concert Dedicated to the 40 children of Ndegeya Community Centre

And the next level he did! In December 2016 I joined Fabio in Uganda to document the #ThumbsUpForUganda tour with a custom made designed piano to give free concerts to raise awareness and support for marginalised children including Fridah’s four children with albinism. We were able to fundraise for the project to happen through a Go Fund Me campaign . Find out more about his #ThumbsUpForUganda project on Facebook Pianist Without Borders.

Another budding character you’re likely to meet amongst the piano enthusiasts at St Pancras is the Piano Man. Indulge him in a request to play your football team’s anthem!

It was however Efe Ikeuseu‘s story and talent which touched me unexpectedly. The young pianist left France to live in London with dreams and aspirations to find his calling. He shared in an interview; “I want to measure myself to world. I really want to be recognised – not to be famous, but to be recognised

CLICK HERE for the video with interview voice-over.

Find out more through the Global Public Pianos Facebook group; a movement promoting the idea of using pianos to transform public spaces into freely accessible auditoriums that allow people of all walks of life to connect through music.

Follow Fabio on his street piano playing journey across the world on Facebook CLICK HERE

Written and filmed by Kai Lutterodt

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