Sunset Piano

Sunset Pianos in San Francisco, CA. 2014. (Photo by Fabrice Florin)
Sunset Pianos in San Francisco, CA. 2014. (Photo by Fabrice Florin)

In 2014, the Black Rock Arts Foundation (now Burning Man Arts) secured a generous grant from the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to support the sharing of artists Mauro ffortissimo and Dean Mermell’s Sunset Piano project with the San Francisco, California, public. Burning Man Arts and OEWD continues to support the project in its latest iterations of public events, Sunset Piano Opus IV, in 2015-2016.

See below for upcoming performances!

About the Project

Sunset Piano is artists Mauro ffortissimo and Dean Mermell’s ongoing series of unconventional public music performances. This social experiment poses the question; how will music, played outdoors in an urban environment, affect how we interact with one another?

The project began in the summer of 2013 when ffortissimo and Mermell placed a dozen pianos against the backdrop of the beautiful San Mateo Coastline. The project began slowly, with a furtive piano sighting here and there. Then, over the course of the summer of 2014, pianos conspicuously began to appear throughout the city without notice, pulled by ropes on wheeled platforms by specially trained “piano ninjas.” Professional musicians, singers, and poets are also scheduled to perform at various cultural events.

This project brings pianos to numerous and diverse neighborhoods, sharing their pianos with some people who have no home, let alone access to music. City dwellers and artists of all walks of life gather at these piano happenings and share their love of music. Art, music, and culture belong to everyone!

Upcoming events:

Poster image by Tamir Karta.

Flower Piano
Sunset Piano introduces Flower Piano in the summer of 2015! For twelve days in July, (July 9-20, 2015) San Francisco Botanical Garden (SFBG) will be transformed into an outdoor concert hall in an exquisitely beautiful setting. As with all Sunset Piano happenings, everyone is invited to play and listen.

Visitors are encouraged to seek out one of the twelve pianos tucked among the many flower-filled gardens within SFBG’s 55 acres and play what they like, from Bach to boogie-woogie. On select days, professional pianists, including acclaimed Steinway Concert and Recording Artist Lara Downes, will be scheduled to perform as well, and the public is welcome to watch the performances.

Visit the Flower Piano’s Facebook event for times, admission costs, and other details.



More information

Read about the entire Sunset Piano project at and about the documentary film by Dean Mermell on the project at

Sunset Piano, Central Market Microhood 5/15/14 from Dean Mermell on Vimeo.

Join a Facebook group and follow the entire project at

See a wonderful gallery of the previous projects at

Wide angle Sunset Piano

About the Artist

Born in 1962, Mauro ffortissimo grew up in Argentina where his interest in art and music lead him to study classical piano and visual arts. He emigrated to California in 1981 to further his artistic explorations, taking classes in printmaking, sculpture and painting in numerous academies including San Mateo College, Art Institute, and Berkeley Extension. ffortissimo was a founding member of “849 Folsom Music” a 13 member music and spoken word performance troupe that brought vital energy to the San Francisco “South of Market” artist underground scene in the pre-dot com years of the late 1980’s.

Mauro ffortisimo playing a piano for his Sunset Piano project.
Mauro ffortisimo playing a piano for his Sunset Piano project.

Also a founding member of the Enso Art Collective and the Miles Davis Memorial Hall, ffortissimo has been investigating sounds with the deconstruction of pianos, becoming more able to expand the 12-tone scale. He does not subscribe to the romantic notion of a solitary artist, a suffering individual, hidden in a state of despair, creating work that only few can appreciate, instead ffortissimo travels the world, looking to the mundane, the sacred and the original with the same eyes, and listening to the music of diverse cultures, bringing it all home to work with it’s particular way of assimilation making art and music available to the community. When not traveling, ffortissimo lives in Half Moon Bay, California, where with wife/artist Carrie Hollister and nine cats, runs the Enso Yoga Studio and Art Center.