A church hall sounded more like Carnegie Hall Jan. 23 when a renowned pianist and violist performed for students at Most Holy Trinity. The concert also marked the first performance featuring a newly donated grand piano.
The instrument, valued at $25,000, will enhance live performances previously heard only by guests invited to Dr. Earl Baker’s home. The retired physician, who helped found and lead St. Vincent de Paul’s Virginia G. Piper Medical and Dental Clinic, donated the family piano to the school.
Baker, who took piano lessons himself growing up in New York, said his oldest daughter, Joanie, learned to play on it. When he heard that Most Holy Trinity was looking for a piano for its music program, he decided to donate his.
“I thought, it’s pretty valuable and I could sell it,” Baker said, “but it seemed to me it would be more worthwhile to be here in this school. It’s a top-of-the-line piano and we had it all restrung, so it’s in good shape.”
The piano premiered as part of the Katzin Classical Music Program. The outreach through the Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Schools Office ensures students in underprivileged Catholic schools are exposed to classical music.
Betsy Sherf, the program coordinator, hopes teachers will explain the privilege students had in hearing such top-notch musicians and instruments live without the expense of a formal concert hall.
Doris Stevenson, a pianist who has soloed with the Boston Pops, played at Carnegie Hall in New York and other places of distinction, called the school’s piano “a masterful instrument” that should be in the sanctuary.
She played pieces by Prokofie from “Romeo and Juliet” — the same composer who wrote music to “The Snow Queen” which many Catholic school students attended at the Herberger Theater in December. The ears of Most Holy Trinity students perked up when Stevenson showcased music by Johann Sebastian Bach because they have heard his compositions played in their classrooms in recent months.
Marcus Thompson, a viola soloist, recitalist and chamber music player worldwide, accompanied her. Thompson also leads programs in chamber music and performance study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The duo also brought their music to two other diocesan elementary schools.
Maggie MacCleary, principal, said the piano is a huge addition to the school. It will enhance music curriculum and special performances throughout the year.
— Joyce Coronel contributed to this story.