A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com

Posted by: Harry-in-PA

A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/09/12 05:37 PM

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!

Harry Martenas
Organist, First Presbyterian Church Bloomsburg
345 Market Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
First Presbyterian Church Bloomsburg PA

Pictures to follow.
Posted by: Pianolance

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/09/12 05:52 PM

That's a great story Harry. Congradulations on having one of the worlds finest pianos.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/09/12 05:52 PM

Harry

Great post!

May I ask - how many can be seated in the church sanctuary?

Sounds like the church is pretty large.
Posted by: Myster Keys

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/09/12 06:33 PM

I feel the same way. This site is a great home for anybody interested in piano! Cheers to pianoworld.com
Posted by: Mark...

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/09/12 10:31 PM

After I sell my Estonia I'm going to Ori's....sounds like a great place to try and buy pianos...
Posted by: carey

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/09/12 11:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Harry-in-PA

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.


Harry-in-PA:

Wonderful story - and a rather amazing, generous donor !!! There's a BIG gap between the $30K in seed money and the final amount I'm assuming you paid for the Model 2. If the donor is planning to move to Arizona in the future, please let me know. We're trying to replace the dilapidated baby grand in our church sanctuary. grin
Posted by: Ori

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/10/12 09:32 AM

Hi Harry,

Thank you for your kind words and interesting story.

I'm glad to hear all is well and that the piano is being enjoyed and used!
one of the more rewarding things we have is hearing from customers, years after they purchase their instruments, of how they continue to enjoy their pianos.

I recall my visit to the church and it is a beautiful setting.
I wish you could take and upload some pictures. smile

...and yes, Bluthner pianos, due to their unique soundboard design can be extremely stable.
even if the piano stays longer than normal in tune it still a good idea to have the tech visit twice a year to make sure everything remains as perfect as it should!

Thanks again,

Ori
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/10/12 10:13 AM

Harry,

Your posting is just lovely and it seems that you belong to a truly fine congretation. Has the organ been completed and the sanctuary rebuilt with the suggestions?

Thank you so very much for taking the time to share this with us. It was truly a delight to read.

Respectfully,
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/10/12 12:49 PM

Great story, Harry. Thanks for posting, and please post here again soon.
Posted by: Galahad

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/10/12 01:21 PM

Harry-in-PA,

Thanks for posting your interesting piano story. The story is particularly interesting to me because I purchased a Blüthner Model 2 from Allegro Pianos about three months before you purchased one there on behalf of your church. Ori was really moving those Model 2’s out the door!

My experience with the piano has been similar to yours. My daughter and I have played the piano daily for more than four years, and I never cease to revel at the beauty of the tone and the responsiveness of the action. The tuning and regulation have been quite stable. I have my piano tech tune and check the piano every three months not because it sounds out of tune, but simply because it sounds so nice when it is freshly tuned and the few very slightly flat notes are brought back to perfection. My piano tech likes to tune the piano at the end of the day so she has a little extra time to play favorite pieces on what she regards as a very special piano.

I met Christian Blüthner at the opening of the new Allegro Pianos facility in 2009, but I have never visited the Blüthner factory and would love to do that.

I hope your congregation appreciate what a wonderful favor you did them in bringing the Blüthner to the church. May you and everyone else who has the privilege of playing that piano have many more happy years of music-making.
Posted by: Harry-in-PA

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/10/12 05:16 PM

The church seats about 350-400 people, with a *very* high ceiling.
Posted by: Harry-in-PA

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/10/12 05:18 PM

Originally Posted By: carey
Wonderful story - and a rather amazing, generous donor !!! There's a BIG gap between the $30K in seed money and the final amount I'm assuming you paid for the Model 2. If the donor is planning to move to Arizona in the future, please let me know. We're trying to replace the dilapidated baby grand in our church sanctuary. grin


I'll let you know if he heads that way!
Posted by: Harry-in-PA

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/12/12 02:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Ori
Hi Harry,
I recall my visit to the church and it is a beautiful setting.
I wish you could take and upload some pictures. smile

Ori


I have a lot of pictures Ori - just haven't quite figured out how to upload them here. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
Posted by: Sparky McBiff

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/12/12 11:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Harry-in-PA
Originally Posted By: Ori
Hi Harry,
I recall my visit to the church and it is a beautiful setting.
I wish you could take and upload some pictures. smile

Ori


I have a lot of pictures Ori - just haven't quite figured out how to upload them here. Any suggestions would be appreciated!


Easiest way is to go upload your pictures to an image hosting site and then post the direct link that it gives you here.

Eg..

1: Go to www.postimage.org

2: Click the "Browse" button to locate the picture on your
computer.

3: Click the "Upload it" button.

4: Click on the "Copy to Clipboard" button beside the "Direct
Link" result.

5: At the reply window on Piano World click on the "Enter an
Image" icon button at the top of the window (it is the
one to the left of the one with the blue square).

6: Select any one of the "insert" options

7: PASTE in the box that appears and click "OK".


It sounds trickier than it is, but I followed those instructions and was able to post this fine picture...



Posted by: Piano World

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/13/12 11:09 AM

Thanks for posting Harry, enjoyed your story.

We had the pleasure of touring the Bluthner factory last year with a group of forums members.
Christian is a great host, and very proud of his pianos.

Yes, we'd like pictures, but I would ask that you upload them to our servers or send them to me (and I'll post for you).
Why?
Because time and time again we find posts with broken image links because the orginal poster no longer maintains an account with the site hosting the pictures, or the site changed, went out of business etc.

So please folks, whenever you post pictures, upload them to our server so our guests won't have to experience the frustration of broken image links.

You can follow the instructions here: Posting Pictures on Piano World

Or you can use Our Photo Gallery and copy/paste the links after uploading.

Or, if you aren't comfortable with either method, email me the pictures and I'll post them for you.
Posted by: RickG1

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/13/12 10:41 PM

I got to play a couple of Bluthners in CAL a few years ago. WOW!! They are amazing. Curious about the organ in your church. Who is the builder?
Posted by: Harry-in-PA

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/15/12 04:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Galahad
Harry-in-PA,

Thanks for posting your interesting piano story. The story is particularly interesting to me because I purchased a Blüthner Model 2 from Allegro Pianos about three months before you purchased one there on behalf of your church. Ori was really moving those Model 2’s out the door!

I hope your congregation appreciate what a wonderful favor you did them in bringing the Blüthner to the church. May you and everyone else who has the privilege of playing that piano have many more happy years of music-making.


The church does seem very happy - and so am I!
Posted by: Harry-in-PA

Re: A four year late thank-you to pianoworld.com - 08/15/12 04:51 AM

Originally Posted By: RickG1
I got to play a couple of Bluthners in CAL a few years ago. WOW!! They are amazing. Curious about the organ in your church. Who is the builder?


RickG1 - the organ is a mish-mash. Started out as an Estey from the mid 1920's. Extensively rebuilt in the 1970's, with a lot of spare parts, it plays the church service well, but is not a particularly distinguished instrument.

27 ranks of pipes, Deagan Chimes, and an Estey harp unit, with a used 3 manual Moller console. The console is about to give up the ghost. Patrick Murphy & Associates maintain it, as much as they can. Jonathan Ambrosino and Stephen Bicknell have consulted, but finding the money is always an issue.