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Southeastern brings music to Rochester station with people's piano

News   •  May 17, 2016 05:01 BST

Rochester may have a bright, new railway station, but we have decided to jazz it up even more ...with a people’s piano.

The Bentley piano has been placed in the main concourse and is there for passengers to play for fun.

And to mark the arrival of the people’s piano, we hosted a special performance on Friday (13 May 2016) with BBC’s The Voice finalist, Jamie Johnson followed by professional pianist Bryan Edery.

Southeastern funded the piano in a bid to bring music to the new £26 million station, which opened in December.

The piano is there so people can show off their talent to others, and to showcase just how vibrant an area Rochester and wider Medway is.

To give the piano a personalised look local art students from MidKent College were invited to decorate it with colourful paintings made from stencils. The artwork is inspired by local imagery including Rochester Castle, Rochester Cathedral and, of course, Charles Dickens who lived nearby and based many of his novels in the local area.

For Friday’s performance, Jamie Johnson delighted passengers with well known classics ahead of a set by pianist Bryan Edery.

Now we want our passengers to treat the piano as their own – and help transform the station into a creative and harmonious space for the enjoyment of commuters and leisure travellers.

To celebrate putting the people’s piano in place and the special performance that was held, we have created a short film, which includes the artwork by local students and musical performances.

Fran Savage, Rochester station manager for Southeastern, said, “We’re always looking to find ways to make passengers journeys more enjoyable. We thought a station piano would be a great way to do this, while reflecting the local area’s rich cultural heritage. It’s been fantastic to see so many passengers enjoying our people’s piano.”

Jamie Johnson, finalist on BBC’s The Voice in 2014, added: “Having grown up in the area, I know that music is at the heart of the community and a big part of Rochester’s heritage. Having live music in the station and a piano that anyone can play is brilliant, and will create a more vibrant space.”

Kate Swanson, lecturer at MidKent College, said: “We were delighted to be approached by Southeastern and asked to personalise the Rochester station people’s piano. My students have been working on stencil making as part of their course, so getting the opportunity to create something for the station piano has been very exciting.”

Natasha Boardman-Steer, from Nucleus Arts, helped organise Friday’s event.

She said: “It was great to work with Southeastern, MidKent College and Jamie and I believe this event has helped us celebrate the creativity of people in the local area.”