Wealth management is not often associated with pianos or parks. So how did Laird Norton Wealth Management become the driving force behind a month-long campaign that brought 20 artist-designed pianos to 20 Seattle-area parks?
Q&A with Robert Moser, President & CEO
Laird Norton Wealth Management
Q: Bob, how did Pianos in the Parks come about?
Bob: LNWM has always been about helping our clients and their families be successful — both financially and in the rest of their lives. In terms of wellbeing, we know strong and vibrant communities are key. And for communities to thrive, we must be passionate stewards of the environment. This is why here at LNWM we value those things that create a sense of community, that bring people together in a way that connects them to each other and to the nature that surrounds us. For us, the support of local parks and music and arts organizations is a great way to put our values into action.
Pianos in the Parks is an offshoot of LNWM’s previous work in both these spheres. We sat down and asked ourselves, “What can we do that’s (1) fun (2) connects our community, and (3) gets people out to discover the great things going on in our parks?”
Q: PIANOS IN THE PARKS! How long did it take to make this happen?
Bob: We started talking about this in-house this past winter. But it didn’t come together until we started talking to our partners in the spring. This was truly a community effort. A huge outpouring of ideas, talent and commitment. I kind of expected this from Seattle, but I was surprised by how so many different arts, music and parks organizations came together so quickly; in a couple of months everything was ready to go.
Ben Klinger of Classic Pianos was literally “the piano man,” rounding up all 20 pianos. Then 20 artists from Gage Academy designed and painted them. The Seattle Symphony and KEXP arranged performances, Seattle Office of Film + Music and PlayNetwork spread the word. Both Seattle Parks and King County Parks were heavily involved in the planning and coordination. And a bunch of other groups were involved, too, like St. Marks Cathedral on Capitol Hill. They provided space to store and paint the pianos, which was a huge help.
Q: What is LNWM’s direct involvement?
Bob: LNWM is the underwriter, so we put up the funds for marketing, community outreach, piano protection, etc. The pianos themselves (including moving costs and tuning) were donated by Classic Pianos in Bellevue.
Q: For you, what’s the best part of Pianos in the Parks?
Bob: I loved how all the different organizations worked together to make this happen. And how delightful it’s been to see a piano next to Green Lake or Alki Beach. One “copy cat” piano even popped up in a nearby forest. A lot of people were obviously inspired. And it brought people together in new ways. I thought it was amazing that a guy named Jason Barber walked 59 miles in one weekend to visit all the pianos. And we’ve seen some wonderful performances recorded and uploaded to the Pianos in the Parks Facebook page.
Q: What were some of the challenges?
Bob: The weather, of course. But on those few rainy days, companies and organizations near the pianos swung into action as “piano protectors,” putting tarps on pianos and keeping them safe. We had a few pianos taken out of commission. But overall, things went really well.
Q: Pianos in the Parks ends August 17. Will this happen again next summer?
Bob: We don’t really know. Certainly, LNWM will continue its commitment to parks and the arts. But what form this commitment will take is always an exciting discovery.