The Sideshow

'Magical' piano amuses and taunts Chicagoans

Call the piano exorcist — the ivories are possessed.

A "magical" piano placed in the middle of Chicago's Union Station amused and taunted travelers who happened to pass by. Their reactions were captured on video and then uploaded to the Web.

The piano prank was pulled off by the folks at Rob Bliss Creative. The piano was rigged so that it could be played remotely by professional musician Andrew Blendermann, who was in a nearby room.

Rob Bliss explained the ruse's setup to Yahoo News.

"We had cameras and microphones set up near the piano that feeded back to this secret room where we had speakers and television monitors set up so we could see and hear everything that happened. Also, our pianist had a keyboard that could remotely control the piano at the same time."

Hilarity, confusion and (in at least one case) rage ensued. Some people (including a young girl) sat down and played along with the seemingly self-aware piano. Others starred at it with suspicion. And one fellow who must have been having a bad day screamed at the piano to shut up. Poor guy, we hope his day improved.

Bliss explains that he did put a call out for people to participate, so it may be that at least some of the people on the video knew that they were being recorded. But Bliss told Yahoo News he thinks the "vast majority" didn't know cameras were rolling.

"We wanted to encourage as much participation as possible, so we tried to publicize the event in advance but didn't give people specific instruction of what to do, just to come see it and interact, and we'll just record it all."

The good-hearted prank was sponsored by Amtrak. "They wanted to do something special for their guests during the holiday season and thought my idea would fit well," Bliss said. "It was a very non-commercial project."

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter at @mikekrumboltz.

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