09/14/2013 04:25 EDT | Updated 11/14/2013 05:12 EST

New life for NDG public piano damaged by vandals

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’s Maison de la Culture and given a new home in NDG Park on Girouard Street.

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.