Spotlight on Memorial University’s #ComePlayWithMeNL Public Piano

Since its inception, Business & Arts NL’s #ComePlayWithMeNL public piano program has been striving to bring people together through music, and create moments of spontaneous creativity and connection in our busy lives.

Now, thanks to a new public piano at MUN’s University Centre, sponsored by Coast 101.1, students, faculty, staff and visitors will have the chance to let off some steam while sharing their musical talents with those passing through the space.

Kerri Hodder, Program Director at Coast 101.1 (piano sponsor), addresses the crowd.

The piano, beautifully and brightly designed and painted by local artist Mark Benson, was officially unveiled during a special ceremony on February 14. The instrument was generously donated by Kathryn and Aubrey Anderson, who had it in their family for almost six decades.

L-R: Kerri Hodder, Program Director at Coast 101.1; Artist Mark Benson; Business & Art NL’s Pete Soucy; Allan Gidyk, Operations Manager at Coast 101.1; and Dr. Noreen Golfman unveil the piano.

Pete Soucy, Business & Arts NL’s Director of Collaborations, kicked things off by welcoming the audience and sharing some background on the organization, its mandate and the public piano program. Soucy spoke about the transformative quality of public pianos and the many ways they add to a space. The program, he added, provides another unique way of bringing the corporate and creative communities together.

Artist Mark Benson and Pete Soucy speak with Amanda Mews of NTV.

Dr. Noreen Golfman, Co-Chair of Business & Arts NL and Provost and Vice-President (Academic) of Memorial University, also took to the podium to share how far the program, and the organization as a whole, has come.

“We started this organization about four and a half years ago, and we never imagined we’d have six pianos…populating Newfoundland venues and Labrador venues eventually, and bringing music to the masses, and allowing that kind of interactivity from the community and that kind of engagement,” Dr. Golfman said.

Mark Bragg

“Really, the piano is symbolic…of the kind of partnership that Business & Arts tries to foster. You can see that with the sponsorship and then with the talent that avails themselves of it – we have a perfect marriage of art and business.”

Stephen Eckert

After it was unveiled to the public, beloved singer/songwriter Mark Bragg christened the piano with a charismatic performance. The St. John’s native, and current Corner Brook resident, has long been a staple of the local music scene and has won over fans near and far with his unique sound and style.

Carl Binasoy

Also on hand were Carl Binasoy, Stephen Eckert and Stella Hui, students of Memorial University’s School of Music, who wowed the crowed with their mesmerizing performances. Snowflakes swirled softly outside as their fingers flowed effortlessly across the keys – a perfect backdrop for a shared moment of musical magic. (Click here to see all of the performances.)

Stella Hui

Artist Mark Benson was also present to welcome the piano to its new home. The Bonavista resident talked about his early introduction to the arts and thanked all of those who helped him on his artistic journey. (We’ll have more on his design in an upcoming post.)

Mark Benson

“I really hope that you guys enjoy the piano,” he told the crowd. “It was was an interesting task in painting it, and I’m really happy with the way it came out.”

There are currently six public pianos in venues around Newfoundland (and one on the way for Labrador). Business & Arts NL hopes to have 15 in place by the end of 2019.