'Magical' Piano Will Lift Your Commuter Spirit


Commuting is terrible. It's terrible in the cold and even during the holidays. But for one day in Chicago, it was a little more bearable. Because Christmas, goddammit.


Rob Bliss, who brought us the heart-melting makeover of a homeless vet right before Veteran’s Day, brings us another holiday-themed production. This time, planting a ‘magic’ piano in Chicago Union Station, and surprising commuters with some freaking holiday joy. Get in the spirit.

“There were probably about 100 people who interacted with the piano and we cut it down to the best of the best,” Bliss said in a phone interview with Fusion. The best included a little girl playing chopsticks, a grumpy man yelling at the piano to be quiet and Santa giving the piano a nice “shhh.”


Bliss said the video was shot all day last Tuesday, Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The “magic” piano, as you might have guessed, isn’t so magic. The piano was actually played by popular Chicago-based pianist Andrew Blendermann, who played on a keyboard in a control room. The wires connecting the two instruments were hidden by the large black mat seen in the video.


Blendermann, sitting in the control room, accordingly reacted to what people were doing around him. “With the little girl,” Bliss said, “she started playing chopsticks and so our pianist, of course he knows how to play that, so he started playing the left-hand progression.”

The result looks so seamless, it has plenty of YouTube commenters saying that the video looks staged.


Before starting the project, “I didn’t even know if the technology was possible,” Bliss said. But with the help of Amtrak, who provided funding for the pianos and crew, the project can bring just a little holiday cheer to your stressful, smelly, garbage-filled, freezing-cold commute.

“I would love to do this project in other places,” Bliss said. “Maybe we could bring it to Grand Central, who knows.”

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