Since October 2022, an 1899 Mason and Risch upright piano has been in the Kimberley Friends Gallery. It is intended for use as a community piano. The piano was donated to the Gallery by Christie and Brett Pighin, and as anyone who has ever moved an old piano can tell you, it was quite an ordeal getting it there.
Once the piano was placed, a call out for a donation bench was answered by a local piano teacher.
Marta Zeegers from Friends says the wish for the instrument is to have it it available for anyone to walk in and play.
“It’s situated in a cozy space, surrounded by local art, 1000s of books and a newly-formed puzzle library: Are you visiting? Do you have some time to spare? Babysitting grandchildren? Want a semi-private place to practice? Small concert?”
Instead of the more common ‘Don’t touch” sign you might see on a piece like this, the sign on this piano says, “Play me!”. There is a small selection of music books available as well.
However, some fund-raising is required in order to get the historic piano into top shape.
Zeegers says an initial tuning and assessment was done by Kendall Hafermehl, a technician who is providing service throughout the East Kootenay. The instrument will receive some reconditioning. Hafermehl has outlined the work required, which will include a thorough cleaning, complete recovering of the keyboard, some strings replaced, and reconditioning and regulating the action. Kendall will be assisted by a few volunteers from the community to maximize the amount of work that can be accomplished.
“This work will be completed onsite June 2-3, 2023, as Hafermehl has a mobile repair shop,” Zeegers said. “We hope you will stop by to see the repairs happen.”
The repairs come with a significant price tag, even with Hafermehl Piano Services donating half the cost. So Piano Friends are working to raise the remaining $1000.
One of the fundraisers is a Helen Robertson painting that will be auctioned off. there is also a repair fund jar on top of the piano. Finally a Sponsor A Key campaign has been launched.
“For $10 a key, you not only help us restore this wonderful instrument, but you’ll be entered in a draw to win a piece of local artwork,” Zeegers said. “There are only 88 keys… so hurry down and claim your key, scale, or favourite melody!”
The Friends Gallery is open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 1030 to 2:30.
It’s located in the same downstairs space as the Friends of the Library bookstore, just to the right of the walkway entry from the lower parking lot.