Winery workers make light work of big move

00:20, Nov 08 2012
Wheels on: The Marlborough Music Society has had to move the piano after 11 years at The Winery, at Riverlands, to St Andrew’s Church, in Blenheim.

Piano tuner Mike Beaver led the final movement from The Winery, at Riverlands, for the Marlborough Music Society's Steinway grand piano.

A dozen workers from the Pernod Ricard winery on State Highway 1 near Blenheim made the shift yesterday morning a reasonably simple task, Mr Beaver said, once the 500 kilogram piano was safely loaded in a removal truck.

The Steinway was bought by the society in 1952 after it raised £1900 and had it shipped to New Zealand. It had previously been used at the Royal Albert Hall in London and played by leading pianists of the day, including Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Since 2001 it has been kept in The Riverlands winery restaurant complex, used by the society as a concert venue since 2001. But earlier this year winery owner Pernod Ricard announced it was closing the restaurant and the society would have to find a new home.

The parish at St Andrew's Church, another regular concert venue, agreed to look after the Steinway until the new Marlborough Civic Theatre is built, when the society will review where the piano should be kept.

Yesterday's move started with the piano legs being removed and its body placed on a small trolley. That made it easy to push the piano the 20 metres across the floor of the former concert room.


The wheels were removed and the team of men carried it down a short outside staircase.

"Steps are generally the biggest problem but 12 blokes made it easy," Mr Beaver said.

One of the workers had helped carry the piano up the stairs a few years ago and reported that move being far more difficult, he said.

Mr Beaver followed the removal truck into Blenheim to supervise getting the Steinway installed in St Andrew's Church, on Henry St.

It would take a few weeks for the piano to settle in, he said.

"It has to change to its new environment - the slight differences in humidity that can affect the tuning."

He will be back in Blenheim to re-tune the piano before its inaugural performance at St Andrew's on December 18, when concert pianist Michael Houston will play JS Bach's Goldberg Variations.

The Marlborough Express