BBC News: “How pianos became part of the furniture at UK railway stations”

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The MIA were pleased to read this interesting and uplifting article recently published by BBC news. It talks about pianos in public places, and explores who plays them, what their appeal is and how the trend took hold. Look out for some important comments about the power of music and how it brings people together… 

Here is an excerpt from the article published by BBC News and written by Ella Wills:

The sound of someone tinkling the ivories has become commonplace at UK railway stations. But who plays them, what is their appeal and how did the trend take hold?

Every Monday and Friday, Denis Robinson, 92, makes the 30-minute trip from his home in Sutton, south London, to St Pancras International station, in the heart of the capital.

His final destination: an upright piano tucked beneath a staircase on the station concourse, opposite the arrivals door where holidaymakers from across the world depart the high-speed Eurostar train.

Denis is one of Britain’s amateur railway station pianists. A minor celebrity, following a viral performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with West End singer Ceili O’Connor in April, he has been delighting commuters with his own arrangements of nostalgic hits for seven years.

He aims to arrive at the piano stool either side of lunch. Breaking with tradition to meet BBC News midweek, he takes his pew by 11:30am on a Wednesday.

Within moments of his opening chord, passing travellers pause to listen, smile and offer him praise.

“It’s an absolute joy,” says the retired auditor, who has been playing since he was a child. “I nearly always come home with a memory to tell my wife.

“I’m lucky because I’ve got an ever-changing appreciative audience.”

Denis suffered a stroke at the station in August, which affected his left hand, but it wasn’t long until he returned to the instrument in autumn for a rendition of As Long as He Needs Me, sung softly to himself.

“When I walked round to the piano again, there was just this feeling of ‘I’m back’,” he says.

Read more on the BBC’s website here: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk