A Steinway for Southminster!

Southminster United Church has its eyes on this superb Steinway grand piano, if the funds for the purchase price can be raised by Labour Day. Donations gratefully accepted! PHOTO: ROLAND GRAHAM

By Roland Graham

Southminster United Church, in support of its growing music program, has embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise money to purchase a spectacular Steinway & Sons Model D nine-foot concert grand piano.

A rare confluence of factors has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the church, which presents nearly 50 free concerts each year, many featuring exceptionally talented pianists, to procure an instrument of world-class stature for an exceptional price.

The Piano
The instrument we’re looking at has been in Ottawa for the past few years, serving in various venues as the Steinway Piano Gallery of Ottawa’s “Concert and Artist” piano, a designation given to exceptional instruments used by elite artists playing in the capital region.

At seven years of age, C&A-D606 (Concert & Artist serial # D606) is barely an infant in piano terms. It has received rave reviews from numerous superb artists, including International Chopin Competition laureate Charles Richard-Hamelin, who describes it as “a marvel, whose pure, golden tone and wide dynamic range makes it an ideal instrument for solo and chamber music alike.”

“Southminster, with its wonderful acoustics, would be the perfect home for this gem of an instrument,” says Richard-Hamelin. It is “sure to have a strong and essential presence serving            in the musical community of Ottawa for years to come.”

The Money
A new Model D Steinway now costs $275,000. Southminster has been offered the piano for the unprecedented price of $120,000. The Steinway Gallery is offering it to Southminster at cost and will make no money from the sale.

The church’s fundraising target, to cover the purchase price, taxes, delivery and other start-up costs, is $130,000, which must be raised by Labour Day.

Southminster is appealing to live music lovers in Ottawa, especially fans of classical, jazz and other forms of music that the church presents, to help it achieve this goal.

Regular patrons of Southminster’s Wednesday noon-hour free concert series, which has been going strong for eight years, number nearly 3,000. These people have attended concerts, donated to the series and requested to be added to the email distribution list. Many are readers of the Glebe Report. A donation of $50 from each of those supporters would raise the money overnight!

Many others in Ottawa attend our concerts – or would if they knew about them – and we are reaching out with our petition: Help us make Southminster the permanent home for this fabulous piano where it will be able to serve the community for generations to come as the only instrument of its class outside the National Arts Centre.

Why Now?
The opportunity has just come up and won’t last long. Steinway is under obligation to sell C&A-D606 to clear the way for its next Concert & Artist piano. If Southminster does not buy it, it will be sold to a private individual, possibly from outside Ottawa in which case the piano would never be seen or heard here again.

We recognize that COVID has not been an easy time for many, and finances may be tight. That said, people looking for a way to support the arts in light of the challenges brought on by a global pandemic may find this a proactive way to defy the imposed cessation of live music and to do something that will help us emerge from the fog stronger than before.

How to Donate
Southminster has set up a donation portal through which you can make a donation online: canadahelps.org/en/dn/50701.

Donors can also mail cheques to Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1S 3X1. Cheques should made out to the church with a note indicating the donation is for the “Steinway fundraiser.”

Charitable tax receipts will be issued for donations of $50 or more. If the campaign fails to achieve its target and the piano cannot be purchased, donations will be returned so please include your name and return address with donations sent by post.

Please send questions about the campaign to SouthminsterSteinway2020@gmail.com. At the time of writing this article, the campaign had raised $25,000; by time you are reading this, it will be much more!

Roland Graham is music director at Southminster United Church.

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