Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On the Dedication of a Piano, by The Rev. Peter J. Van Hook

In accordance with a venerable tradition, church furnishings and ornaments are consecrated by being put to the use for which they were intended. The Book of Occasional Services, p. 192

On the evening of Saturday, October 10, St. Mary's Church will celebrate the dedication of the Richard H. Weissert Memorial Piano.

To dedicate a piano may seem odd, although it would seem less odd to dedicate a chalice or vestments or stained glass window. If anything it is right and good that we should acknowledge the gift of something to our church, but it is also right and good that we should remind ourselves of the importance that things have in our lives and of the importance that those who have gone before us have for our continuing life together.

The purpose of this piano has been explained before, so I shall only summarize here. About three years ago our then-Organist Ruth Eldredge Thomas and I began to realize that our “little” church was not only beautiful but also possessing rather fine acoustics. Ruth began to recruit friends and colleagues to perform at various times for us, and the idea began to grow that the church might be a resource for the larger music community around us, including the music programs at the two area universities.

In December 2014 the Bishop's Committee approved a proposal to create the Community Music Outreach Program to do exactly that: provide a moderate-sized venue for musical performance as a means of reaching out to the community around us and making life better for us all. However, our explorations revealed that in order to be an attractive venue we needed a decent—read, grand—piano. Our technical advisers recommend something around 6’2” in length.

In late 2013 the Rev. Richard Weissert, long-time Assisting Priest at St. Mary's Church, died. Conferring with his children, Barry and Sandy, it was decided that a fitting memorial for Fr. Dick, who loved church music and used to sing in the church choir, would be the desired piano. Thanks to them, and a number of others who contributed to the Weissert Memorial Fund, sufficient funds were raised that, when the right instrument was discovered, we were able to move quickly and acquire it.

In early 2015 Serena Kanig Benish was retained as the Program Coordinator, and the program commenced with the opera department of Utah Valley University putting on Puccini’s Suor Angelica in the church. (It was oddly fitting, in that the entire opera takes place in a chapel!)

Along with the piano itself, a bronze plaque will be placed in the church to remind us of the example of service that Fr. Dick gave us. He was well known around town for his generous spirit, and served for many years on the Food & Care Coalition board of directors, and many of them as Treasurer.

Two things Dick loved about St. Mary’s Church was the music and the annual service of the Blessing of the Animals. One of the last sermons he preached as at such a service, and the text of that sermon remains posted on our parish Website (here).

So, what then are we observing and dedicating on the 10th of October?

We are remembering, and causing to be continually remembered, the generous example of Dick Weissert to his church and his community.

We are acknowledging the many gifts of money that led to the acquisition of the piano.

We are recognizing the many years of planning and effort that went into the creation of the Community Music Outreach Program and the acquisition of the piano that will support it.

We are thanking God for all that and more, including the continuing opportunity as a congregation to reach out to the community around us and invite it into our lovely space to enjoy it with us.

We are committing ourselves to continuing the ministries that have been expressed out of this congregation so that the world will know that God’s creation includes the beauty of his holiness.

It is not necessary that we should dedicate this piano, but it is a good and lovely thing that we give thanks and celebrate the gifts we have received.

The authors of the blog texts welcome comments, reactions, and critiques.

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