The School of Music quickly emptied as the cry went up on a quiet day this summer. "The Tuning Fork is back!" An audience assembled on Memorial Plaza, their attention riveted to a crane that was lifting a familiar figure, centre stage, left.
It was a memorable performance, a long overdue encore and everyone agreed that the seven-metre steel sculpture by Gerhard Class once again filled a big empty space and musicians would no longer lose their place on campus.
Time was transcended for Laurie Townsend, the School of Music's Concerts and Communications manager, who was taken back two decades to when she auditioned to study at the school.
"I wandered among the buildings and trees, violin case in hand and got lost," she recalls. "`Look for a giant tuning fork' I was advised and realized it was an important part of being in Music at UBC."
Recently Townsend returned to work on campus. The trees had matured, she noted as she approached the school.
"Suddenly I was stunned because it was gone and the place wasn't the same. I was told it was removed because it had become rusty and dangerous."
Indeed, four years ago the Tuning Fork was tilting. The base was deteriorating and it was carted off to languish in a warehouse, an ignoble end to almost 30 years of music prominence.
In 1968 a jury had commissioned the well-known Class to create the work and Alfred Blundell donated $5,000 to pay for it.
"Gerhard and I often went out to look at his works -- including the fountain in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre -- and he was very disappointed when the Tuning Fork disappeared," says a neighbour, Ken James. James was asked by Class to help put it back before the artist died several years ago.
James found sympathetic ears at UBC and enlisted the help of a former student of Class, Paul Slipper, who fashioned a new base, which lifts the stature of the sculpture by a further 20 centimetres.
"It was the right thing to do," says Geoff Atkins, associate vice president, Land and Building Services. "UBC hadn't made sufficient provisions to properly maintain works such as this and we are correcting that oversight by making a complete inventory on campus."
The artist's widow and two sons are flying from Germany for a re-dedication ceremony at noon on Sept. 7. Friends, artists and fabricators will be attending from across Western Canada. It won't be the first or last time people have gathered to listen to music and share food around the Tuning Fork.
It's all music to Townsend, who says she has overheard people once again giving precise directions.
"It will always be there, a place to congregate, a constant reminder for us to play in tune, an icon and the only clue that you were near the Music building, which is soundproof."
"Gerhard would be thrilled," says James.