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Turkey protests: The 'peace pianist' trying to bring calm to Taksim Square

  • @_richardhall

The soothing sound of a grand piano drifted across Taksim Square last night, bringing a welcome calm a day after violence rocked the area.

Throughout the day protesters had been readying themselves for another assault by police. 

In Gezi Park they were stockpiling gas masks and goggles to protect against tear gas, which police used with abandon the night before. The first aid tent was a hive of activity as volunteers laid down tarpaulin and received medical supplies in anticipation of injured protesters. Journalists were shooed away. 

In the early evening protesters on one side of the square faced off with police, chanting: “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance.” 

The prime minister had predicted earlier in the day that the protests would be over in 24 hours, and there was a feeling among the crowd that another night of violence lay ahead. 

But then, in the space of a few hours, the atmosphere in the square changed; and it had a lot to do with one man and his piano. 

Hundreds gathered around German musician Davide Martello as he clinked away late into the evening. They were mostly silent while he played John Lennon’s Imagine, some Bach, and his own composition “Lightsoldiers.”

After playing for an hour at the edge of the square, Martello enlisted the help of his new fans to drag the grand piano closer to the centre, beside Gezi Park. 

Martello built the piano himself, attached lights so he could play in the dark, and pulled it on a trailer from his hometown Konstanz, Germany, to play to protesters in Taksim Square. 

The evening passed without incident any major incident. Some protesters even had time for a game of football in the square. 

After his performance, Martello wrote on Facebook: "Good night Istanbul, tomorrow I will playing again on the square for freedom and our rights."