There was a flurry of activity at the famous Gander International Airport this past Thursday, December 12 – though it had nothing to do with holiday travel.
Business & Arts NL was thrilled to officially unveil its newest #ComePlayWithMeNL public piano, sponsored by Come From Away Broadway, the hit musical that’s been taking the world by storm. On hand to help celebrate the unveil of the new instrument, and perform a few tunes, was one of the stars of the Broadway musical, Newfoundland and Labrador’s own Petrina Bromley. She was accompanied by local pianist Tina Stryde (see a clip from the performance below).
“We are excited to place this piano at the Gander Airport,” says Sue Frost of Junkyard Dog Productions (Come From Away’s lead producer).
“We see our placing this public piano at the airport as a fitting tribute to the spirit and hospitality of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Come From Away tells the story of the care and compassion shown towards thousands of displaced airline passengers from around the world in the wake of 9/11. When the planes (38 total) touched down in Gander on that day, it about doubled the town’s population. But Gander and the surrounding communities pulled together to make sure all of the travellers needs were met, providing shelter, food and friendship.
The piano was designed and painted by visual artist Jennifer Young, who based the design on the musical’s stage set, incorporating the colours and aesthetic of the show’s logo and branding. The piano’s bench includes some important numbers from the day the planes touched down (such as 19 animals, 38 planes, and 7,000 welcomed). (We’ll have more with the artist in an upcoming post.)
The instrument was donated by Kim Saunders in dedication to her parents Howard and Phyllis Saunders for their dedication to the Town of Gander, and was transported to its new home by Household Movers Gander.
After Pete Soucy, Business & Arts NL’s Director of Collaborations (who oversees the public piano program), gave the audience an overview of the organization and program, invited guests also shared a few words including Bromley, Young and Saunders, as well as Gander Airport President and CEO Reg Wright and Gander Mayor Percy Farwell.
After lifting the cover to reveal the piano for the first time, guests enjoyed a beautiful performance from Bromley and Stryde (which included a tune from the hit musical) as well as some festive treats – a perfect way to welcome the instrument to its new home. It is hoped that the piano will bring comfort and joy to the many visitors and travellers who pass through the airport’s doors each year.
Business & Arts NL will be unveiling the next #ComePlayWithMeNL public piano at Goose Bay Airport at 10:30am on December 19 (the first for Labrador). If you’re in the area, come join us! (Click here for details.)