It’s amazing what can happen when you strike up a conversation with a friend on a chairlift — and even more amazing when it results in a sizeable donation to a local organization.
Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival board member Peter Foley was skiing with a friend, Stephen Barber, of Denver, in January when the topic of chamber music came up.
“Stephen and I ski together a fair amount; he and his wife live together in Denver,” Foley said. “He said, ‘What are you doing this afternoon?’ I said, ‘I’m going to a board meeting of Alpenglow.’ I explained it to him and he said, ‘My son is a pianist; he plays chamber music, and we have a Steinway artist series piano that we bought for our son when he was growing up and taking lessons. He’s off living in France, and would you be interested in it?’”
Foley literally jumped at the offer.
“I immediately almost jumped off the lift and said ‘absolutely,’” he said. “It took two or three weeks to work out the donation, and we’ve had this beautiful piano since mid-March or April.”
Nothing like a Steinway
Rieko Aizawa, pianist and artistic director for the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival, said the piano is a 1922 Steinway B.
“I’ve been rehearsing on it; we’ve been rehearsing with this piano since we got here,” she said. “It’s a beautiful, original piano, but the inside is all new — new hammers. It has a warm, humane voice, it has nice action — it’s really nice to play on and also nice to rehearse with.”
The fact that the piano is a Steinway sets it apart, Aizawa said.
“Steinways are all handmade, so every piano has a totally different voice like a human,” she said. “Most of the (other) pianos are made with machines, so everything is very similar. If you meet the right Steinway, you feel much more personal with the instrument; that’s how all the string players find their instruments.”
If you enjoy playing piano, you will love the sound of this instrument, Aizawa said, and being so old, it carries a bit of history.
“It’s a historic instrument,” she said. “So (to have) something old and beautiful in your home, I think that makes it a little different from other furniture. It has a really warm, nice tone that anybody would enjoy.”
Finding a buyer
According to Suzanne Lanuza, of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival, the piano was appraised at $46,680, but a sale price hasn’t yet been determined.
“We would certainly be open to discussing any offers,” Lanuza said.
Money from the sale of the piano will be used to help fund future concerts for the Chamber Music Festival.
“It will sort of be put into the kitty as part of our ongoing expense for the fall festival,” Foley said. “We bring typically four to six artists here, musicians from all over the country, and that’s a relatively expensive thing to do, and we have other expenses, so when we sell the piano, we will use it for our ongoing expenses.”
As a Steinway artist, Aizawa said she always enjoys playing Steinway pianos.
“We’ve been really lucky to rehearse everything with this piano, and everybody loves this piano — it’s all about the voice,” she said. “The piano itself is in great shape, so for me, it’s like being given the big palette, so I’m able to make a lot of different colors, a big range of dynamics — it has everything. I would say that the part I would like to emphasize is the more you play, you can explore more, and it’s motivated me to learn more, and it’s a really nice instrument.”
“It’s a very, very valuable instrument and when and if we are able to sell it, it will really, really help us financially,” Foley said.