Emily Runov, a 15-year-old pianist from Farmington, had her prayers answered in a way she never thought possible when a couple donated their Steinway grand piano to her through the Mundi Project. (Olga Runov)
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FARMINGTON — Grand pianos don’t fall from the sky — except in cartoons.
And they’re doing it at a Utah nonprofit that brings the gift of music to the community, according to its director.
The Mundi Project receives an average of 40 to 50 quality piano donations each year to its Piano Bank, making it easier to deliver them to those who would benefit the most, said Cody Goetz, associate director of the project.
“I think it’s life changing, to be quite honest. Having an acoustic piano as part of a student’s learning process is life changing. It’s important because an electric keyboard is not the same and will never be the same as a real acoustic piano,” said Goetz.
When 15-year-old Emily Runov’s piano teacher suggested she contact the nonprofit to get on its piano donation list – her skills had outgrown the family’s upright piano , which her mother says she bought several years ago on KSL Classifieds – Emily and her mum started praying.
Olga Runov said she teaches her children to pray for specific needs in their lives. Now they started praying for a grand piano, even though they couldn’t afford it, so that Emily could continue to progress in her talent. Having started playing around the age of 7, she now plays at an advanced level and enjoys composers such as Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff. She also plays for her church, leads and accompanies a children’s choir.
As the Runovs of Farmington prayed for what would be a miracle for them, Jean and Norm Provan were downsizing, moving from their home in the mountains to a townhouse in the city, and trying to decide what to do with something that they liked. . They had to move because Norm Provan had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The Provans bought their Steinway while living in Chicago in the 1970s.
“I wouldn’t exactly say we’re talented musicians, but we come from families that love music and played piano, accordion, violin and all kinds of things,” Jean Provan said.
The rebuilt Steinway grand piano “was really a lot more piano than we needed, but we fell in love with it, so we bought it,” she said.
He traveled with the couple for about 50 years in their various homes. Now their options were to put the piano away – “which seems a shame, because a piano should be played” – or let it go to someone else.
Jean Provan’s father was an accordionist. When he was 90 he decided he needed a new accordion that would be smaller and easier to play, so he ordered an accordion from Germany. But the instrument took a year and a half to arrive, and when it arrived, it couldn’t play. So he donated it to an accomplished accordionist who went to his seniors’ residence every month to play it.
“Maybe that was the inspiration,” Provan said, to research “how to donate a piano” online.
“We were lucky to have it, and people who I guess people who could afford to buy it could afford to buy a piano on their own,” she said. “And so this whole idea of giving it to someone who could really appreciate it and love it and play it, that was nice.”
Emily and her mother would never have guessed how much their prayer would be answered by the Provans and Project Mundi.
When they met for an interview with Goetz and his team, as they reviewed each candidate for a piano, he asked her about her dream piano.
“He said to me, ‘So what is one of the highest quality grand pianos?’ So I was like, ‘A Steinway.’ So he was like, ‘Well, this piano is a Steinway.’ And in that moment, I literally had to hold back tears of shock and joy. So it was crazy,” Emily recalled.
Steinways are some of the most expensive and revered pianos among musicians and can range in price from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When they brought him to his new home this spring, “At that point I was like, ‘Well, this is actually real, this is happening,'” Emily said. .
“It was better than Christmas.”
Emily said that if she met Jean Provan, “The first thing I would probably do would be give her a hug and just say thank you, and tell her that she’s literally made one of my biggest dreams come true. “
“Because I think from the moment I started playing the piano, I always loved the feeling of playing a grand piano. And it’s just a totally different experience to be honest, and so d ‘to be gifted, absolutely free, just out of the goodness of someone’s heart is just amazing. Honestly, I’d probably start crying because it’s so touching. It takes my breath away, the fact that there have people there who will give Steinways,” Emily said.
Runov described the gift as a blessing in the life of the family.
“It’s been an answered prayer for Emily and mine. It was a need we had, and it was met in an incredible way that you can’t even, like, feel guilty for imagining that could come true, and it came true,” she said, expressing her gratitude to the donors.
Norm Provan died of cancer this summer, but his wife says being able to donate the piano brought them joy.
“I was thrilled. They sent me a video of her talking and playing. Someone like her should have that piano. She’s a talented musician, and you have to play her, so I was thrilled “, she said. “It was perfect, and it gave us a lot of happiness to know that this family was getting this piano.”