Think what you will about “toy pianos,” but there are folks in Florida that are trying to grow its popularity through the first Florida International Toy Piano Festival.
The toy piano is virtually everywhere and this weekend, it takes center stage at the first ever Florida International Toy Piano Festival (FITPF), which is spread across five venues over three days. Organizers from the nonprofit New Music Conflagration hope to further the creation and performance of works for the instrument through a series of lectures, panels, concerts and outreach events featuring performers from around the globe.
“I have a fondness for the secondary and tertiary harmonics that do so much for the character of a seemingly singular pitch.” That’s festival co-founder Elizabeth A. Baker. She is a 27-year-old born-and-raised St. Petersburg resident, and while her job as a concert pianist lands her in big fancy digs, she finds the most exciting audiences to be the ones that don’t have a relationship with symphonic concert halls.
In her short, year-long relationship with the toy piano, she’s become an official artist for Schoenhut (perhaps the most recognizable name in toy piano manufacturing), toured the country as a soloist and as part of various ensembles, and even participated in a three-and-a-half hour sound installation at the Carter Woodson Museum of African American History. The instrument has changed her already rich musical life.