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.