Come Play With Me NL Pianos Hit the Right Notes


Noelle Slaney from Memorial University’s School of Music accompanied by Brian Way at the #ComePlayWithMeNL piano launch at MUN.

Over the last few years, street pianos have been taking the world by storm, with over 1,300 pianos on display in more than 45 cities around the globe. Besides enticing people’s inner musicians to come out and play, street pianos help create moments of magic, community and connectivity in a busy and rapidly changing world.

Here in this province, Business & Arts NL’s “Come Play With Me NL” public piano project has taken on a life of its own. With pianos installed at the Avalon Mall (sponsored by Coast 101.1 FM, Bell Group and painted by Susy Randell); Memorial University (sponsored by Penney Group and painted by Benjy Kean); Deer Lake Regional Airport (sponsored by Humber Motors Ford and painted by Jackie Alcock); and the St. John’s International Airport (sponsored by JAG, Steele Hotels and painted by Justin Fong), our sponsors and artists are helping the trend of community music making stay alive.

With more pianos in the works, the project has already hit several high notes. Currently, the piano at Memorial University is being used every Monday afternoon as part of the Memorial University Cafe Concert series.


Hannah Wadman-Scanlan and Matthew Hardy perform at the MUN Cafe Concert Series. (Photo courtesy of Memorial University Cafe Concert)

This piano has also caught the eye (and ear) of Portland-based filmmaker Ivy Lin, who travelled to the province for the first time in September to capture footage of the piano, and others, for “Clavier Chronicle,” a video series about the lives and deaths of pianos.

While in St. John’s, Lin also filmed several performances by MUN School of Music graduate Laura Madonna Murray at The Fifth Ticket restaurant/piano bar, the Inn of Olde at Quidi Vidi, and at Murray’s home. She also filmed a piano performance at the Fogo Island Inn, and captured The Split Peas at a kitchen party concert at the historic Orange Lodge in Twillingate.

The Newfoundland segments will feature in part two of “Clavier Chronicle,” which is tentatively due to be released in the fall of 2017. (Click here to view part one of the series.)

“(The series) was inspired by a story in the New York Times (back in 2012) about an older piano moving company (in Philadelphia) transporting pianos to community dumps because of the economic downturn. People had to downsize to a smaller household where there was no space for a piano,” Lin explains.

“Or, pianos are too old and they need restorations, which is a high cost that most people cannot afford. Pianos can normally last 80 to 100 years under good care. It is my hope to remind people to love their pianos or at least realize the long-term commitment required to care for a piano before a purchase is made.”

Lin’s series will feature about 20 pianos from all over the world including Portland, Taipei, London, Stockholm and Oslo. The series, she says, is a testament to how pianos can impact our lives.

“I love Business & Arts NL’s piano project. It brings people together! It also brings the joy of music making to people all around. It is also an awesome opportunity for artists to collaborate. I love the design of these pianos!” she says.

“Come Play With Me” pianos in other locations have been sharing the spotlight as well. To celebrate the anniversary of the Deer Lake piano, the sponsors and Business & Arts NL recently teamed up with Tom Cochrane Photo, who filmed Sherman Downey, Neil Targett, Justin Mahoney and Paul Lockyer for a performance of “Front Porch.” (Click here for the video.) And last year, local group Fairgale posted a video of the band performing an unplugged version of a classic Trooper song using the piano at the St. John’s Airport, which helped them land a spot opening for Trooper at the 2015 George Street Festival.

For more information about #ComePlayWithMeNL, click here.