Union Station The Musical

The sound of Yann Tiersen’s ethereal piano ballad “Comptine d’un autre été” pours down Union Station’s center aisle, waking bustling travelers from their trances. At the end of the vast waiting room, bathed in a sky-lit strip of the station, sits a humble black upright piano with an intrepid performer tickling its keys. “Step Up & Show Us What You’ve Got” reads a sign in front, calling on the public to fill the station with an impromptu show.

The piano has become a cherished and familiar face of the iconic station. Andrew Glick, a daily commuter, slows down his brisk walk as he approaches the performance. He listens for just a few moments, happily transported by the music before rushing off to the terminals. “It’s a small and worthwhile break from my usual routine,” he says. “Bright energy leads to a bright day.”

The piano serves as a welcomed respite in the naturally fast-paced public space. Strangers find themselves congregating around the mini-concerts, trading surprised and gleeful glances, iPhones wielded. Atop the piano sits another sign that reads “#unionstationLA.” Comb through the hashtag on Instagram and you’ll find a sea of 15 to 60-second shows, some impressive enough to be called masterpieces. Each clip is entertaining on its own, but as you watch them consecutively and view them collectively, they coalesce into a larger public art piece—one that blurs the line between the meaning of public space, community and culture. It’s the kind of experience that makes you momentarily forgive the darker, megalomaniac nature of social media, acknowledging and embracing Instagram as a valiant historian.

A 15-second clip of a duet singing and playing the classic "L.O.V.E." by Nat King Cole sent us on dizzyingly delightful daydream: Union Station The Musical Coming Soon?

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