Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Acquiring A Grand Piano | The Rev. Peter J. Van Hook

Acquiring a Grand Piano
in support of The Community Music Outreach Program at St. Mary's Church

Following on over two years of conversation and investigation, at its December 2014 meeting the Bishop's Committee of St. Mary's Church voted to establish The Community Music Outreach Program (CMOP). This ministry is intended to make the church building available to community and university music groups and students for rehearsals, recitals, and concerts. The Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah approved a $9,000 grant to help us establish the program during 2015. Our own Serena Kanig Benish has been appointed to serve as the Program Coordinator, providing promotion, scheduling, and support.

Following Fr. Dick Weissert’s death, and in the midst of the conversations about the music program, discussions with the family led to the establishment of the Richard Weissert Memorial Fund, because of Fr. Dick’s love of church music and his participation in the church choir for many years. Gifts to the memorial fund have been designated both for acquiring a grand piano, and later for supporting the congregation’s music programs. Memorial gifts to the fund amounted to more than $17,000.

On Sunday, March 15, the Bishop's Committee voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of a small search committee—Serena Kanig Benish and Ruth Eldredge Thomas—to acquire a piano. This group, with the assistance of a number of others, worked for over eighteen months to define our needs and to identify the right instrument. The instrument we are purchasing is a ten year old 6’1” Kawai grand piano at a total cost of $15,000. We are well assured that this is a good investment of our resources.

Early on the Bishop’s Committee and I recognized that in order to accommodate the piano we would have to remove the current pulpit, as this is the only space available for the instrument. The pulpit was a very late addition to St. Mary’s Church, having been built and installed by parishioners in the 1950s. The original and historical lectern is to be restored to its position at the front the church, and small platform will extend the bottom step to the chancel for readers and preachers to stand on. This will substantially return the church building to its original proportions, and will allow for increased flexibility in the use of the building.

We—the Bishop's Committee and I—recognize that this is not a small or insignificant decision. We have for over two years discussed our vision for the church building, considered alternatives, and reviewed our priorities. We believe that the addition of the piano, chiefly for the Community Music Outreach Program, is the right decision as we seek more and more to serve the community in which we are placed. It will be a fitting symbol of the long and fruitful ministry of a man who served his Lord and his friends as a Deacon and Priest of the Church.


Photographs of the New Piano in the Studio.


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