Yamaha and Andy Moses
Musical Instrument Innovators
Great design and fine artwork came to town in the guise of a sexy, lacquered Yamaha slimline player piano one balmy May night. The instrument was auctioned off at the 2008 Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters held on the Warner Bros. Studios back lot in Burbank, California. The evening raised $1.6 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“It’s a unique design concept,” says Paul Calvin, Yamaha vice president and general manager of piano. “The public can fulfill its musical desire for culture with an appreciation of fine design.” Yamaha introduced the piano, a MODUS F11, the musical equivalent of a flat screen TV, in early 2008. It streams a wide range of musical stations from the Internet where owners can enjoy the music live while the piano keys move in sync with the rich sound. The sleek piano can also be played traditionally.
Painter and “sultan of swirl” Andy Moses teamed up with Yamaha to create a one-of-a-kind design, and he provided a high-resolution, digitized version of his painting, Eighty Miles High, that was applied to several of the piano’s back panels. The title, a musical reference The Birds’ song Eight Miles High, coupled with the painting’s swirling clouds and atmospheric aerial view of Earth, appealed greatly to the company’s tastemakers. Moses, who has seen his work adorn denim jackets, masks, silk ties, and even surfboards for charity, thought his Yamaha collaboration “looked cool. I almost always find it interesting to do something outside the norm of just painting on a flat canvas.”
Yamaha’s art department laid out the digitized art on a template, which was sent to Japan. “The art was printed on panels. The process took four to six months,” says Jim Levesque, electronic keyboard marketing manager of Yamaha’s piano division. “Since we were supporting Cystic Fibrosis, which is about breathing, we thought something that felt and looked like air would make sense,” explains Moses. His convex and concave canvases are covered with pearlescent paint, creating a hybrid between painting and sculpture. The colors shift when viewed from one end of the canvas to the other. Moses, who likens his work to a 21st-century marriage of Jackson Pollack’s gesture and energy and the light, space and mood of Mark Rothko, says the challenge with each painting is to achieve a subtle combination of light and motion, as seen at the NAMM Show.