Since 2014, Business & Arts NL’s #ComePlayWithMeNL Public Piano Program has been encouraging moments of spontaneous performance and creativity, and helping bring people together through music. The pianos have been beckoning everyone from professional musicians, music students and teachers, interested passersby and more. A few years ago, one of them also attracted the attention of an American filmmaker.
Ivy Lin is a Portland-based pianist, storyteller and documentarian who has been helping to shed light on the various ways pianos touch our lives through her film series “Clavier Chronicle.” The series was inspired by an article in the New York Times that described how the economic downturn led to household pianos being transported to community dumps (as people had to downsize, or couldn’t afford required restoration work).
During her visit in the fall of 2016, Lin filmed several piano stories around the province including St. John’s, Twillingate and Fogo Island. These stories are captured in the recently released “Clavier Chronicle” series #2, which also features piano stories from around the world including Taipei, Seoul, Wan Fang, Portland, Salem and Columbia Gorge. (“Clavier Chronicle” series #1 also includes tales from Portland and Taipei, as well as Sellwood, Estacada, Philadelphia, London, Stockholm, Oslo and Lofoten.)
“‘Clavier Chronicle’ is a testament of how pianos can impact our lives,” says Lin, who started playing piano when she was five years old. She left her native Taiwan in 1989 and moved to the U.S. to further her musical studies.
“Our fascination for pianos is universal and timeless.”
Lin was on hand to film a performance during Memorial University’s Cafe Concert series, featuring the public piano that formerly occupied space at the University Centre food court (painted by Benjy Kean and sponsored by Penney Auto Group). The result is “Come Play With Me” – one of 12 stories (still in production) told in “Clavier Chronicle” series #2.
Lin also managed to capture a thoughtful and spontaneous performance from a student passing by. She doesn’t know the player’s identity, she says, but his lovely rendition of “Piano Man” perfectly exemplifies the magic that lives within these instruments.
“I am forever grateful for the opportunity for me to capture this precious piano encounter,” she says.
“This video pretty much sums it up for ‘Clavier Chronicle’ where the pianos are the main character and piano players make them sing. A piano tends to sit around waiting for people to come and play, and you can see and feel the piano (and imagine what the piano was thinking and feeling) in the video.”