George P. Bent “Crown” Orchestral Grand Piano
We are truly blessed to have discovered and procured a very special 6’ grand piano. This is a refurbished 1917 George P. Bent “Crown” Orchestral Grand piano, which was a highly respected brand in its day, and, after refurbishment, is still an excellent instrument.
The story of how we obtained this instrument is a little miraculous and suggests we had some help from above! Our prior sanctuary piano (still in the choir room where it is used for warm-ups and practice) was a decent but not outstanding console piano; the tone and the touch left something to be desired. It was difficult to play it expressively. The suggestion was made that perhaps we should look into a new piano. Lew Severance and Dean Suhr heard about this and both made generous donations towards this. To make a significant improvement, we wanted a grand, as the action and tone are generally better than an upright piano. It was and is very difficult to find a new high-quality grand piano at an affordable price, so we decided to look for something used. The basement of the Hamilton Music store had a selection of used instruments so Dan Kaufeld checked them out. They had several grands in various states of repair, but there was one “Steinway” that caught his eye. The keys were in bad shape and there were notes that did not work, and the case had quite a few dings and scuffs. As it happened, Dave Kemmer, a local piano expert (he did the tuning for the Rochester Symphony Orchestra) was in the room and walked over and said “That is not a Steinway. The previous owner put that decal on it. But it is still a very good piano. It has the same basic action as a Bosendorfer. The piano case is old-growth mahogany. It would be a great choice for renovation.” After some more discussion, it turned out that he recommended Zwemke Music in Kasson for the rebuild – familiar to Dan, as he had been there often and knew of the quality work of Sue and Truman Sogge, the rebuilders. Dan took a proposal to the Session and the church proceeded to purchase the piano and invest in the rebuild. The rebuild required complete disassembly of the piano and provided repair to the sound board, repainting the steel harp frame, new key tops, hammers, strings, pins, and pin block, repairs to the action, repair and refinishing of the case and bench, and tuning and regulation. When this was completed the piano was like new! Total cost of the piano and rebuild was about a sixth of what it would have cost for an equivalent new instrument. Enough of the original donations was left to enable purchase of our electronic keyboard.
The rebuilt piano is a great asset to the church and a key resource, used regularly in services and for choir practice. It is holding up well, and stays in tune better than many new pianos! We are extremely fortunate to have this instrument. Here are some links to audio samples of music produced with it: