by Grace McCarthy
Despite the many changes initiated by the new owner of David Jones, South African company Woolworths, the store’s grand piano will remain as an emblem of the venerable retailer’s elegance and sophistication.
The decision by chief executive Ian Noir to keep the piano and pianists as a feature of the flagship store in Elizabeth Street reinforces David Jones’ commitment to its image as a retailer of style and quality.
Dr Jannet Pendleton, Senior Lecturer of Public Communication at the University of Technology Sydney, says, “The piano locates the store within the range of the great elite department stores. It continues the image of the brand that DJ’s has long enjoyed.
“David Jones would want to be seen to be offering a premium shopping experience,” she says.
On a recent Monday, Erica Dalton is playing Maurizio Angelozzi’s ‘Nottorno Postumo’, filling the room with a warm air of sophistication and grace. Ms Dalton, 59, has been playing at David Jones for 24 years and says she is frequently approached by customers. “They absolutely love it, they’ve always loved it,” she says.
Ms Dalton, who studied classical piano until the age of 45, says all three pianists at the store decide what they play but generally she performs “more contemporary pieces in keeping with the times”.
Many patrons consider the grand piano one of the store’s most “enthralling features”.
Marj Steffel, 56, who has been traveling to DJs from her North Shore home for the last 19 years, says, “It always offers some respite from the loud music played elsewhere; it’s nice to see where the music is coming from.”
Gina Wallis, 46, says, “The piano playing has always made me feel that little bit more sophisticated; it carries a real element of class with it.”