October 30, 2014 4:15 pm
Updated: October 31, 2014 1:04 pm

WATCH: Video of homeless piano man in Edmonton goes viral


WATCH ABOVE: A video posted to YouTube showing an Edmonton homeless man playing piano has gone viral.

EDMONTON – Ryan Arcand isn’t your typical pianist. He has reportedly lived on the streets of Edmonton for the past 30 years; his skills are said to be self-taught.

Now, the world is getting a chance to see them thanks to Roslyn Polard. She captured his talent on a video that has been viewed more than 1.7 million times on YouTube in the past week.

Polard walked past the piano man last week in a nearly empty Churchill Square. After hearing him, she decided to turn back and asked if she could record him.

“He said, ‘Oh sure, I’m already on YouTube!”

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Polard says she was “absolutely moved” by the impromptu performance she was treated to.

“I was absolutely moved, no question.”

“That melody is just beautiful. And the fact that he wrote that — it’s just mind-boggling,” she says.

A small crowd of women eventually formed; according to Polard, most of them were soon in tears watching Arcand play.

He seemed happy to have the audience, she says.

As for the piano Arcand was playing, it’s part of OpenPianoYEG. When the outdoor public piano project launched last spring, David Rauch with the organization said he thought the donated pianos would be a great way to spontaneously engage passersby.

READ MORE: Edmontonians invited to add the sound of music to the downtown core

“It’s about…having this kind of exciting chance encounter with an instrument and with people surprising you,” Rauch said in May.

That’s exactly what Polard says happened to her and the rest of Arcand’s audience last week.

“The lady next to me…as she was crying, she said, ‘You just never know. You never know.’ And that pretty much summed it up.”

“This occurrence really is everything I hoped for with the piano,” Rauch added on Thursday. “A person who sometimes you might judge by their cover — they surprise and delight.”

WATCH: Samantha McLeod, a friend of Polard’s, met Arcand a few weeks ago outside St. Joseph’s Basilica. Here’s what he told her about himself:

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News


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