VIDEO: Musician brings Oak Bay Sixth Piano to life in Estevan Village

Oak Bay’s new Painted Sixth Piano along Estevan Avenue provides visitors and local residents with a more social and urban environment to play major and minor melodies this summer.

Victorian pianist Jesse Thomas Brown took the keys during a recent pop-up show on Friday, dazzling diners at the nearby Village restaurant for the instrument’s first public performance.

The next pop-up concert this Friday (August 5) will feature local musician Brooke Maxwell at the Turkey Head (Spewhung) piano from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Andrea Pass, acting arts and culture programmer for the Oak Bay District, chose the location for Estevan Village and worked with local artist Jennifer McIntyre, six women from Carlton House and several girls from the Neighborhood Learning Center to produce the paper mandalas that have been pasted on the piano.

Muriel Hanson, one of the Carlton residents whose mandala comes from the word “home,” pointed out that Estevan’s painted piano is the first in Oak Bay not to be located by the sea.

Christina Johnson-Dean, selected from an extremely long list of potential donors, according to Pass, donated her Gulbransen upright piano after years of having it in her home.

As Brown performed, Johnson-Dean’s husband, Bob, admired her mastery of the keys. The couple met in Victoria but owned a home in Berkeley, California, where the piano was previously housed. Eventually, they brought Christina’s piano back with them to the island.

“She complained bitterly that the dining room was too small,” Bob recalls. “Then she put the piano in there and it was (actually) too small.”

In those days, he joked, you needed a piano, a collection of encyclopedias, and fine silverware to appear “cultured.” Their piano was “sort of part of the family,” he added, and with only a few dozen of this model left in the world, parting with such an instrument was difficult.

Carlton House Wellness Program Manager Debby Macmurchie accompanied the six residents for the day’s lunch in the village. Although none of them had done something so artistic before, they pulled off the project beautifully to make it an “all-in-one piano,” she said. The group enjoyed their afternoon libations in the sun while listening to the neighboring trill of Your Song and Elton John’s Crocodile Rock.


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Musicoak Bay