Hello, Piano World Forum!
This is my first post, but I am in the debt of all the participants, the founder, and whoever maintains this site. I discovered this forum in 2007-8. The wealth of knowledge is amazing, and I am truly thankful that this resource exists.
This is the story of how a Blüthner Model 2 found its way to First Presbyterian Church Bloomsburg, PA (a small but beautiful church in a small but beautiful town in northeastern Pennsylvania.)
I have been organist at First Presbyterian Church Bloomsburg since 1992. The church is a wonderful 1891 Victorian brownstone building, with amazing stained glass, four fireplaces, a 27 rank pipe organ, and, when I took the position, a Yamaha Conservatory Grand (C3) piano.
The Yamaha was a memorial gift to the church in the late 1970’s. It has served the church very well, and is a fine instrument. At the same time as I took on the church position, I was also asked to accompany the local university choir (Bloomsburg University Concert Choir), which held most of their concerts at the church.
Over the next 10-15 years, and more and more use of the piano for various recitals, concerts, and Sunday morning worship, I got frustrated with the Yamaha – it could not fill the sanctuary with sound. If used for a congregational hymn, or accompanying the church choir and local University choirs, I had to pound on it to get the volume required.
5-6 years ago, I went to the governing body of the church, and suggested they consider getting a larger, finer piano. Their reaction was – “What is wrong with the piano?” I made my case over the next few years. It was not big enough for the room, it lacked subtlety, it lacked color.
In early 2008, the minister made an appointment to talk to me about the piano, and to my surprise and joy, told me a new piano had been approved as part of a new capital campaign. In addition, a member of the congregation had decided to seed the new piano purchase with a gift of $30,000.
Wow. It was time to start shopping. Initially, I had been thinking a Steinway D concert grand – although the floor plan of the church would have made a nine foot piano difficult – a tight space, and difficult to move such a piano around for the various functions it would need to fill. I also played Steinway Ds at the local University for various functions – and was underwhelmed.
As I started doing research, I discovered the Piano World forum, and from there, Larry Fine’s book. I promptly purchased a copy, and also discovered that there is a world of wonderful pianos that most people in the USA are not familiar with.
I read Fine’s book with relish – by now I was also considering Mason & Hamlin and Estonia, in addition to Steinway. I also found more and more posts at the Piano World Forum, by Ori, from Allegro Pianos in Stamford, CT, advocating European pianos. His posts said a lot to me – his views on the state of the piano art made so much sense, and I agreed with much he had to say.
By late June of 2008, it looked like the new piano was definitely going to happen. After the research I had done, I made an appointment in early July to visit Allegro Pianos in CT.
Jayne (a member of the church choir, and a frequent soloist at the church) and I made the trek to Stamford in July 2008. Ori’s basement showroom was mind-boggling. (We actually thought we had the wrong address!) So many fine pianos on display, and Rebecca and Ori were incredibly gracious. There were at least 25 grand pianos available, along with 5-10 uprights. (Ori has since constructed a new commercial showroom, which I visited in 2010.)
Ori spent several hours with us, demonstrating many pianos, including Blüthner, Bösendorfer, Steingraeber, etc. We also got a tour of his rebuilding shop nearby – it was amazing.
The Blüthner Model 2 Concert Grand was my first choice, and I visited Allegro Pianos again a month later to make sure it was the best piano for the church. Meanwhile, the donor who had seeded the piano fund agreed to pay the entire price.
It was delivered in late September 2008.
Ori travelled to PA for the final voicing – it is perfect.
I have played this piano for four years. It is stable. It is amazing. It is always a pleasure. It always encourages me to practice more, and try bold things. Within the church service, it accompanies choral anthems and soloists, and offers fabulous opportunities for special music, offertories, and improvisations based on hymns of the day. It is superb for the romantic piano repertoire, does early music with panache, and seems to love jazz, gospel, and new age music.
It has not been tuned for 16 months (it will be tuned next month) – and is still breathtaking. The dynamic range is amazing. The action has been totally stable since delivery. The tuning is rock solid.
It is the most stable piano I have ever played.
Can you tell that I am smiling?
Exactly as I had hoped, the piano is being used more and more by other musicians and ensembles in the area.
I had the rare pleasure to visit the Blüthner Piano Fabric in Leipzig in 2009, and got a personal tour from Christian Blüthner.
Thanks again, Piano World, and thanks to Ori at Allegro Pianos!
Organist, First Presbyterian Church Bloomsburg
345 Market Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815First Presbyterian Church Bloomsburg PA
Pictures to follow.