Glenn Gould owned a number of pianos and some are still being played. The one in Edmonton has been in the care of Joachim Segger since it arrived in 1984.

What does it matter if a prestigious item — a sparkling piece of jewelry, a tattered religious relic — once belonged to someone else?

This idea, the meaning of things touched by grace, or even celebrity, came to me again after putting my hands on a piano once owned by Glenn Gould. The Yamaha concert grand rests quietly in a modest performance hall at King’s University in Edmonton.

Yes, one of the pianos owned by Canada’s arguably most famous musician lives in our city, and has since 1984. That’s when it was acquired by Central United Church to form the heart of a piano recital series being launched by the congregation.

Joachim Segger, a music professor at King’s University, has served as the piano’s keeper since it arrived. Other people have played it, tuned it, admired it and been proud of it. But Segger has been by its side the whole time.

He was the music director at Central United when congregation members first hatched the idea of a piano series that would require a fine instrument. The church’s accountant, Lew Bell, discovered that one of the pianos held by Glenn Gould’s estate was for sale. In 1991, it was Segger who spearheaded a brief, intense campaign to raise $34,500 so King’s could acquire the piano when Central United closed. Segger’s own family contributed to the fund, but it was the estate of Bill Sinnema that made the purchase possible.

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