Filmmaker preserving N.L.'s piano stories — before they disappear

Ivy Lin/Submitted

A musician and filmmaker has documented the stories of some of the province's pianos, as she says more and more of the instruments are disappearing.

Ivy Lin has spent seven years working on a series of short films called Clavier Chronicles, capturing the stories of pianos — and their effects on people's lives — from around the world.

One of Lin's most recent films features four pianos in St. John's, Fogo Island and Twillingate.

Ivy Lin/Submitted

She says the inspiration for the series came from a New York Times article about one of the oldest piano moving companies in the United States, written by Daniel Watkin.

"He discovered that they'd been hired to remove pianos from households to [bring them to] the community dump," she said.

"These piano movers were originally trained not to hurt pianos when they moved them, but now they are hired to remove the piano and basically just push them out of the back of the truck because people just didn't want them anymore."

As a piano player for most of her life, Lin said she wanted to show the importance the instrument can have in people's lives. The series of short films has taken her around the U.S. and Asia documenting piano stories. 


"Pianos are everywhere … it's almost like the first instrument lesson that all parents want their kids to take," she said.

But Lin said Newfoundland was one place that she always wanted to visit.

"The starkness and the beauty of the nature reminded me of Scandinavia." 

On a trip to the province in 2016, Lin filmed four piano stories, including one with pianist Laura Madonna Murray at the Inn of Olde in Quidi Vidi.

Ivy Lin/Submitted

"After I finished filming and came back, I just couldn't stop smiling every time I watched that footage," she said. 

"I wanted to capture the moment when the piano started interacting with the player and also people around it."

Despite what she says is a decline in the number of people playing piano, Lin is hopeful for the future of the instrument.

I think they will still be around and people will still love having them around. - Ivy Lin

"Pianos have been around for a long time, and sometimes they're just a very nice piece of furniture to look at, and sometimes they become part of the family," she said.

"A good piano — if you take good care of it and you tune it and it's in a comfortable environment — it could last up to 80 years, at least. I think they will still be around and people will still love having them around."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador