Note: We have had a few anonymous donors step forward to front a few thousand dollars toward the piano
- Jes Wheeler’s voice recital, Thu, Jun 7
House of Mercy worship and Band (potentially monthly concerts)
Piano Garden concert, Jun 27
First Readings Project, in Jul
- First Readings Project, multiple times (6/3/18, 1/21/18, 2/28/16, 4/10/16, 11/2015)
- Ladyslipper Concert (5/6, 4/15)
- Recitals of piano & string students: studios of Piano Garden (2-3x annually, Mary Taylor Allens’ string studio recital (3-4x annually), Bjorn, Charlotte, Claudia Chen (2x annually), and Brueggemann
- Twin Cities Early Music held several concerts of their summer festival in our sanctuary in 2017 (6) and Aug 2015.
- Bach Society: Sept 2016, April, May, Aug 2017,
- MN Renaissance Choir: May 2017
- Lumina, May, Aug, & Dec 2016, Dec 2015
- Viola & Piano Recital, Nov 2017
- See above various recitals of students
From Conie Borchardt and Chuck Watt: We have received the sad news that our long, mutually beneficial relationship with the Piano Garden is coming to an end. During the Piano Garden’s time at Saint Mary’s we have enjoyed the use of their excellent 9′ grand piano in our own ministries. The Piano Garden’s departure means the piano could depart as well. So what does that mean for us? Here are some thoughts about our needs as a church and a place where community gathers for concerts and recitals, where this departure leaves us, and perhaps some next steps. As a place of worship, our first priority is that of ministry support. At our two highly attended Sunday morning worship services, our voices are raised in song for gratitude and prayer. The piano plays an important role in supporting, at times accompanying the choir and soloists, the congregation (when the style of a hymn or section of the liturgy calls for it), and as solo accompaniment to communion or offertory. In our recent renovation, we made significant changes to our sanctuary so the ritual action happening at the altar could been seen by more folks in the nave (main seating area). In doing so, we intentionally designed a space that was attractive to performing arts groups. St. Mary’s has long been a place for chamber music recitals. We have welcomed choral groups lately and have also hosted some theater readings. We have long viewed this type of building use as one of our community ministries. The availability of a high quality piano has been an important factor in realizing this ministry, making the performance space more attractive. With Piano Garden’s departure, two mediocre upright pianos remain at St. Mary’s. One is in the choir room and the other hangs out in some corner of the sanctuary. Though they may be strong, neither of them are sensitive nor performance caliber. They have their uses but do not fill the gap left by the loss of the 9′ concert grand piano To properly support our ministries, we should purchase a new, if only to us, grand piano. As we have wrestled with moving our budget back into the black, our vestry prayerfully made decisions to promote building rental as a means for increasing income. Though a 5′ grand may be suitable for our worship ministry needs, a 7′ or 9′ grand piano would be more attractive to outside performing arts groups. While purchasing a piano this year was not on our radar when we crafted the budget, it is still worth considering urgently. It supports our worship and community outreach ministries in significant ways. Moreover, it is a one-time purchase addressing a specific, unexpected gap in resources. Over the long term it does not add appreciable burdens to the church budget. Liz’s opening price for the 9′ Baldwin* is $25,000. The number seems daunting at first glance, but there are other things to consider. The price appears to be top of market and may be negotiable downward, especially if she does not have to deal with contract sellers or movers. Even at the full opening price the amount is manageable through several to many smaller contributions or a purchase in partnership with members of the larger musical community. Thank you for considering this case for a new piano. Yours in Christ’s love and light,
* Piano nerdness alert: This 9′ Baldwin concert grand piano is the most responsive 9′ grand I’ve played, so yes, I think we should purchase it. When I was a piano major in college, I had the opportunity to play two 9′ Steinway’s regularly. In those 4 years I never accomplished as much expression out of the Steinways as I could with the Baldwin on the last two Miscellany concerts we’ve held. The action is not as heavy and so more nuance is available to players.
From Beth Varro: Hi there, I wanted to share my thoughts on whether we should buy Liz’s piano. I don’t claim to have detailed knowledge of the budget. And I am a musician, so I don’t doubt the value of the opportunity this presents. But I must sadly admit that I’m not convinced this is the right move for us. It’s a great opportunity, but we have just cut staff hours because of budget limitations. Unless we already have money in the budget, or *new* pledges are made to cover this purchase, I think we need to prioritize our financial health at this time. To me, this is a question of priorities. I have watched another organization I’m involved with that lost its ability to prioritize, and the results were awful. Every opportunity was seen as one that we couldn’t turn down, and the result was strapped budgets, overwhelmed staff, and unsustainable expectations all around. All those opportunities were good, but they all turned sour because we didn’t know when to say “no,” or at least “not right now.” I have no doubt this is a great opportunity, but I feel like there have been a lot of those lately, and we can’t afford to keep investing in these things outside of the budget. It doesn’t mean the opportunity isn’t a good one, but we already have budget challenges. And frankly, I think the optics on it are pretty bad; if we can make this purchase work, why couldn’t we keep Bjorn’s hours from being cut? I realize it’s not the same, but that won’t matter in terms of optics – people who are upset about staff cuts won’t care about ther cost of benefits or annual vs one-time costs. If someone were going to try to convince me that we should do this, I’d want a careful accounting of the revenue brought in from concerts that used our piano in the past few years, and I’d want pretty hard evidence that this purchase would pay for itself in under 5 years. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt that’s the case. Again, I get that there is a ministry component to this, but we can’t keep using that as a reason to spend behind our means. I think we should either live with what we have, fix up the pianos we have, or look at getting an electronic keyboard for now. We need to live within our means; if we don’t, we’ll keep having to cut staff. If we haven’t yet, i think we should look at budgeting for an opportunity fund for ourselves, that we fund regularly and use for such opportunities in the future.
From Laura-Lee Brown: I am not in support of buying the piano, but if we do go down this path, is it worthwhile to let Liz know that we are interested, but propose a low and competitive price. By low, i would suggest we research the range and discount the bottom of the range further by the transport costs needed to relocate the piano. This is a business transaction and should be treated accordingly. Happy to discuss in person to share my perspective if helpful.
From Mark Wahlberg: I am willing to make a donation towards the purchase of the piano.