The slogan “Keep Portland Weird” has become a little overused at this point, but every once in a while something perfectly absurd happens and you think: Only in Portland.
Last Wednesday, that was the first Piano Day celebration ever held in the U.S., in which a unique cast of performers played a world-class piano in the Washington Park MAX Station, 260 feet below ground.
TriMet employee Gaylord Warren kicked things off with his jazz trio — they sounded so good — followed by Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale with Hunter Noack, who played a piece for four hands (!) with gusto. And then Sgt. Jim Quackenbush of the Portland Police Bureau somehow managed to follow that up by playing Beethoven and the theme from Star Wars (in uniform, of course) with seriously impressive poise and style.
The event was a fundraiser for Portland Piano International, a non-profit dedicated to enriching the community through piano performance and education. Piano Day is celebrated internationally on the 88th day of the year (there are 88 keys on the piano), and Portland is the first U.S. city to take part.