Sproul Plaza piano destroyed for 4th time

Sproul Piano
Alexandra Nobida/File
The Sproul Plaza piano most recently ransacked was donated by UC Berkeley student Andrew Kaplan, according to campus alumnus Joshua Yurtsever.

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The beloved piano located in Sproul Plaza was destroyed, making it the fourth time the campus piano has been vandalized, according to a Saturday Facebook post.

The student-led effort to put a piano on campus was started by campus alumni Jonas Katona, Daniel Geng and Joshua Yurtsever. The project involved the purchasing and refurbishing of an old piano to be situated on school grounds and freely accessible to passersby and students alike, according to Yurtsever.

“It’s touching to hear how enthusiastic people were over the piano. It was great to see it bring the community together,” Yurtsever said. “I got to meet so many new people through the piano and it provides a creative outlet. It’s cool to see how a little coordination can bring a new light to the campus.”

Before its most recent destruction, the Sproul Plaza piano had experienced instances of vandalism. Katona said there have been three previous pianos placed on campus by student initiators.

While the first three pianos had been donated by the original organizers, the piano most recently ransacked was donated by campus student Andrew Kaplan, who took over the project following their graduation, said Yurtsever.

Well known by students and Berkeley residents, the piano has become a uniting symbol within the city, according to campus junior Amy Li.

“The piano really acts as a bridge between us all,” Li said. “Sproul is a shared space between students and the rest of the Berkeley community.”

Li added that she would often walk through Sproul Plaza and pause to listen to whoever was playing the piano. Like many other UC Berkeley students, Li said she enjoyed the artistic ambiance it gave the campus. 

According to campus junior Lillian Shallow, the piano attracted all sorts of people in Berkeley to come play and listen. 

“UC Berkeley is a huge component of the Berkeley community, but doesn’t act like it,” Shallow said. “The piano was the students’ way of connecting with the rest of the Berkeley residents. I’m sad that it’s gone.”

Despite a pattern of vandalism, the campus piano’s original organizers were optimistic about the piano being replaced.

According to Geng, this could be soon.

“It was such a joy to be able to be part of the group that started something that everybody knows about,” Yurtsever said. “I see on Facebook that people are upset about the vandalism. It’s sad symbolically, but the piano is easy to replace and there will be another one.”

Contact Samantha Lim at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sssamanthalim