A bittersweet symphony for Columbia

One of Columbia’s biggest music sources has come to the end of its run

_“Thanks for all the many notes.

I’m leaving soon.

My season is over.

My work is done.

‘Play it Loud.’”_

That was the anonymous note found last Tuesday on the famous “Play it Loud” street piano sitting outside of Teller’s. It was officially removed from its home last Thursday.

The piano’s keys were removed after noise complaints from those working in the offices above the restaurant.

“We support live, spontaneous music downtown, but think it's fair to ask that it be temporary and change locations regularly,” says Jeremy Brown, who works in one of the businesses located on the second floor.

The piano was originally set to be removed along with the second piano outside of The Heidelberg before winter in order to avoid damage to the instruments.

A Facebook post from Teller’s included a photo of the beloved piano without any keys and the caption “It’s tragic that people can’t leave a beautiful thing alone to be enjoyed by others. R.I.P. Piano.”

At first, this post made it seem as if the piano had been vandalized by a citizen of Columbia.

Comments on the post ranged from annoyance and anger to remembrance of the great performances and memories that all started with just one note.

Rumors were soon cleared up by a comment on the Facebook post made by Lucy Urlacher of the Columbia Piano Technicians Guild, who clarified the reason for the piano’s removal.

“The piano was loved and Samantha Edwards’ artwork a huge part of that,” Urlacher wrote. “The removal of the keys was not vandalism. We piano techs did it in response to noise complaints from 2nd floor offices. The time on the streets was very near an end with freezing night temps soon to be here. Remember the love and the good times with Play It Loud!!”

Deb Rust, one of the owners of Teller’s, says the piano has been in front of her restaurant since last Spring when it first made its debut to Columbia.

“It’s unfortunate that the beauty and simplicity of the piano that was enjoyed by many was not well received by all,” Rust says.

Urlacher doesn’t know if the “Play it Loud” piano will be in a good enough shape to be playable for the next year. The original plan was to bring both pianos back in the warmer months.

Until then, a part of the rich culture of downtown Columbia will be lost as residents find other ways to “Play it Loud.”

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