Piano association plans 10th anniversary concert
The Jamestown Community Piano Association will present a special anniversary concert at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m. The concert will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the community piano.
In 1999 a group of local music lovers decided that it was time to have a fine piano that could be used for various musical events that take place in Jamestown during the year. The group set out to raise money to purchase a piano.
“It evolved into the Jamestown Community Piano Association,” according to Rosemary Enright, a board member of the piano association. “It was more of an ad hoc committee, and evolved over the first couple of years after the piano was purchased.”
The stated mission of the association is to maintain the Jamestown community piano for use by and for the people of Jamestown; to sponsor concerts and recitals in Jamestown that feature the piano; and to encourage performance of piano music of all kinds, and the use of the communityowned piano by all professional and amateur pianists in Jamestown.
It took two years for the group to raise $28,000. The money was used to purchase a Schimmel 7-foot grand piano in November 2001, and the inaugural concert for the piano was held on Nov. 30 of that year. Following the concert, one of the association’s founders said, “To be able to enjoy the beauty and peace that music can bring is a blessing to be thankful for.”
Enright said that the first concert a decade ago featured many islanders, and that is the focus on the upcoming recital.
“The first concert featured a lot of Jamestowners, which is the reason that we’re trying to do it again this year,” Enright said.
Since that time the association has presented more than 25 concerts, including an annual performance by students from the University of Rhode Island. Due to the expense and potential hazards of moving the piano, most of the concerts have been held at St. Matthew’s.
A series of professional and semiprofessional concerts are offered each year. Local – and, if funding permits, more widely renowned pianists – are scheduled. The first full concert series was offered by the association in 2007-08.
To encourage student use of the piano, senior and graduate students preparing for major performances are offered the piano and the venue at no cost, other than that associated with tuning the piano. The piano is also used for private recitals by students of local music teachers. The piano association offered its first afterschool recital by professional musicians in April of this year.
The Jamestown Community Piano Association, pending its nonprofit designation, has ongoing fundraising responsibilities in order to acquire performance fees, and to ensure that the piano is properly maintained. “Our fundraising letters for this year went out this past week,” Enright said. In addition to private donations, the association secures funding through grants.
The 10th anniversary concert, like the inaugural concert in 2001, will feature performances by Jamestown residents. The following musicians are scheduled to appear at the 10th anniversary concert on Oct. 16: Bethany Clarke, vocals; Alex Gorelick, piano; Daniel Gorelick, cello; Janet Grant, piano; Sam Hollister, piano; Bill Knapp, English concertina; Lauren McDonough, oboe; Michael Loo, violin; Rachel O’Neill, piano; and Cheryl Rebecchi on the flute.
“We’re trying to have people from Jamestown play the piano on the 16th, basically emulating the concert that we had in November 2001,” Enright said.
Ann Zartler, also an association board member, said, “The idea is that because the piano was purchased by and for the community, that we want to celebrate the Jamestown element. It’s the anniversary of the piano and we have a lot of talent in this town. This is a Jamestown occasion. We’ve invited several Jamestown pianists.”
The remaining events for the 2011- 12 season include the annual URI students’ performance in November. That concert will feature 8 to 10 student musicians. In March 2012, a concert will be given by Constantine Finehouse of the New England Conservatory. Finehouse is noted for his exploration of the late-20th century repertoire.
The following month a special concert for children will be given by well-known Japanese pianist Norkiko Ohtake, who will be in the area to conduct master classes and to judge the annual Extravaganze! competition at URI. The season will close with a Mother’s Day concert by Dr. Manabu Takasawa in May. Takasawa is an associate professor of music and co-director of music graduate studies at the University of Rhode Island. He is also the piano association’s musical advisor.
All concerts are free and open to the public. The decision not to sell tickets was influenced by the fact that the piano had been bought by the community for the community.
“There is no charge whatsoever,” Zartler said. “None of our concerts require tickets. We are happy to accept donations for the upkeep of the piano, but every concert given by the Jamestown Community Piano Association is presented free to the community of Jamestown.”