Thinking Out Loud

November 25, 2011

Unlike Keyboard, Piano Story Probably Not Black and White

I can already hear the cries of, “But, Paul; you don’t understand the big picture; there’s another side to this you have to consider.”

So let’s begin with the facts.  St. Andrew’s Church in downtown Toronto, Canada recently paid $100,000 for a Bosendorfer grand piano. 

Actually, that’s not fact, either.  The price of the piano was at least $100,000, but the exact amount is protected by a non-disclosure agreement by both the church and the vendor, Robert Lowry Piano Experts, also of Toronto. 

But can the church keep the secret?  By law, sometime in the spring the church has to have an annual meeting; copies of the budget need to be distributed and the purchase price of the piano should be there, in black and white for all to read.

Unless it’s buried in another budget item.  Last month, a Toronto Star piece on this musical spending spree noted that superior instruments of this caliber (or calibre as we spell it here) can go for up to $240,000. 

Some context:  St. Andrew’s is not a megachurch.  A survey of 1,000 churchgoers in the greater Toronto metropolitan area might, if we’re lucky, reveal 50 people who could place the church on a map or among a list of church images. 

Unless we asked a specifically downtown crowd.  The church is located in the heart of the financial district and also just a block from Toronto’s gallery of live theaters (or theatres, as we spell it here; noticing a trend?) on King Street West, not to mention across the road from Roy Thompson Hall.  Perhaps both arts-minded and wealthy business patrons require excellence in their musical instruments, and this church does host the occasional concert, and wanted a piano that any self-respecting pianist would desire to play.

However, walk a mile in almost any direction from this church or any other downtown church and you’ll find examples of poverty.  Two miles and you’ll find shelters and missions and soup kitchens.  The question is not, “How could the church spend $100,000 on a piano?”  There were after all donations as part of a two-year fundraising campaign.  The better question is, “How can a church justify having a $100,000 piano in the present economic climate?” 

It just seems a little out of touch with times we live in. But then this strikes at the heart of times we live in; where examples of grotesque wealth of the few exist side-by-side examples of gross poverty of the many. 

You’d think someone would see this and stage a protest or something.

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1 Comment »

  1. The church that I left a year ago was one in which the average attendance was 65 and the average age likely 75. They appeared to totally lack a cumpulsion to reach the lost or the suffering around them. But what the music committee was committed to was purchasing a new grand piano. Their focus and fundraising was that alone. The reason given was so that God could be given “excellent” praise that presumably could only be emitted from a $100,000 piano. That and the fact that they wanted to have the church used for classical concerts. To be fair there were more than half the congregation who pointed to many other ways for the money to be used (still self focused however). In the end, one Sunday morning, there was a grand unveiling of the new piano. But the first song that the music director played on it was not a beautiful hymn or a profoundly honest worship chorus. It was Bach.

    Comment by Cynthia — November 25, 2011 @ 9:13 am


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