By David Rogers. January 13, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — In the middle of the Blowing Rock School auditorium stage under the bright lights, Ava Cutlip sat in front of an old upright piano, right where it had been delivered on Friday morning. As she struck a first chord and it rippled broadly around the empty theatre chamber, she broke into the most beautiful smile for the at once delicate, but also grand sound she had produced.
“This is magnificent,” she reported to Blowing Rock News, her teacher Ms. Reis, and the workers who had delivered the instrument. “This is wonderful.”
It was as if she could reach out and not just turn the pages of history, but touch Blowing Rock history itself. For oh so many decades, this piano had entertained, even enthralled. Think of the open-mouthed wonder of an audience, the belly laughs, perhaps even the tears.
When she inquired from where the piano had magically appeared at school, Ms. Cutlip was told that through the years many accomplished and amateur musicians alike had tickled the ivories of this instrument in the second floor Day Room of the old Blowing Rock Hospital, which is being readied for demolition.
“Oh,” she responded in hushed tones, becoming almost reverent in contemplating the people who had sat on the very bench where she sat now, turning the pages of hymn books and sheet music, as well as “making stuff up” while playing with the keys and looking through the large picture window of the hospital’s Day Room with its million dollar views of Grandfather Mountain.
Perhaps, she thought, this piano had helped ease the suffering and maybe even helped cure those whose were sick or recovering. As she played, the light framed her profile with almost a halo effect. Surely this was a moment meant to be.
Ms. Cutlip was the first to sit at the piano at its new address, but certainly will not be the last to enjoy it or to learn from it.
“We are so thrilled that this piano found a good home,” Mike Rawls, Director of Materials Management for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System told Blowing Rock News on Friday as the piano was being delivered to the school. “Ever since we realized that there were a number of items that could not be placed at the new Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge Post-Acute Care and Rehabilitation Center, we have been trying to find a special place for this special Blowing Rock item. This piano has been touched by several generations already and it is great to see it go to a place where it will be enjoyed by today’s young generation and generations yet to come.”
Principal Patrick Sukow said that receiving this gift from Appalachian Regional Healthcare is just that much more special because it keeps a little slice of Blowing Rock history in Blowing Rock. “It is important to our students, our faculty and our staff to be involved in the community as much as possible. Especially where we can help preserve some measure of Blowing Rock history we are appreciative of the opportunity. This piano will be enjoyed by hundreds of students, now and in the future.”