New life for NDG public piano damaged by vandals

The piano was a week shy of its debut performance when vandals defaced it and set its plastic tarp on fire, which melted to the piano and its bench.

Upright piano gets a tune up and a paint job after its tarp was set on fire

Richard Leblond, the tuner and maintenance man for the Montreal public pianos project, gets ready to sit down and play a piano that was badly damaged by fire and graffiti. (CBC)

An outdoor piano in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce that was damaged by graffiti and fire earlier this week is getting another chance at life.

Built in 1904, the upright piano was pulled out of storage at NDG’sMaisonde la Culture and given a new home in NDG Park on Girouard Street.

The piano was damaged earlier in the week by vandals who drew graffiti all over it before setting its tarp on fire. (CBC)

It was a week shy of its debut performance when vandals defaced the piano and set its plastic tarp on fire, which melted to the piano and its bench.

Local resident and artist Julian Cargnello, who originally painted the piano, was disappointed it was targeted by vandals.

"It was sad to see an instrument ruined like that," he said.

But piano tuner Richard Leblond, who takes care of the nearly 20 pianos that take part in Montreal’s public pianos project, said the piano would live to see another day.

He said the piano’s damage was mostly superficial, and that it only needed a minor tune-up – and so Cargnello and two other artists were on hand Saturday to repaint it.

Leblond and his two sons all work as piano tuners in Montreal, and he holds the project very dear to his heart.

He said they bring joy to people who enjoy playing but can’t afford to have their own piano.

When Leblond has the opportunity to do so, he likes to offer impromptu piano lessons to people living on the street.

“I just tell them, come over here and I’m going to show you how to play piano,” he said, choking back tears.

“They were so happy. Many of them were crying.”

Cargnello said the burn marks on the piano and bench would be incorporated into its new facelift.

Artist Julian Cargnello had originally painted the piano, and returned a second time to repaint it after it was vandalized. (CBC)

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