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Fundraiser to provide baby grand piano for Garrison School’s new auditorium


Fundraiser to provide baby grand piano for Garrison School’s new auditorium

22 Jun 2017

An upcoming concert is “key” to the success of a fundraising initiative undertaken by the Savannah Friends of Music.

On June 25 at Skidaway Island United Methodist Church, SFOM will present Support Something Grand, a kickoff concert for the fundraiser.

In partnership with the American Traditions Vocal Competition and the Savannah VOICE Festival, SFOM is raising money to buy a baby grand piano for the Esther F. Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts. The piano will go in the school’s new performance hall.

The piano’s 88 keys are being “sold” to raise the money. Supporters are invited to “buy” a piano key for $200. The Middle C and Concert A keys are available for $500 each.

The concert will feature music by student pianists Gabby All and Jasmine Lin of Savannah Arts Academy, and pianists Zeke Nichols and Madeleine Peli and violinist Mina Smith of Garrison School. They will perform works by Debussy, Haydn, Chopin and Bartók.

ATC President Daniel C. Cohen is the emcee for the kickoff.

“Savannah Friends of Music has been instrumental in providing a platform for sustaining music and music education in our community over the years by providing local organizations such as the American Traditions Vocal Competition and the Savannah VOICE Festival with much needed support,” Cohen says. “I’m honored to have been chosen as the emcee for this kickoff event and to be involved in this wonderful initiative.”

SFOM’s mission is to support, sponsor and promote classical music and music education in Savannah and the surrounding areas. The nonprofit organization has donated more than $900,000 to musical programs and students since its inception in 2003.

Students have been awarded grants for private music lessons and summer camps. SFOM also supports organizations committed to developing excellence in classical music, including Garrison School, Armstrong Youth Orchestra, Savannah Arts Academy, ATC, Savannah VOICE Festival and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

Philip Greenberg, former conductor of the Savannah Symphony, was instrumental in SFOM’s acquisition of the piano. His friend Chris Jurgensen was preparing to sell his 1918 Sohmer piano, a 5-foot mahogany baby grand with ivory keys that is in excellent condition.

It was Greenberg who suggested Jurgensen donate the piano to SFOM. SFOM member and SVF board member Wes Krulic told members a piano was needed for the new Garrison auditorium.

“I knew when I heard that this piano had been donated to SFOM that this organization had an amazing opportunity to provide students and the generations of tomorrow with a beautiful instrument to continue to provide music for years to come,” Krulic says. “Everyone who supports SFOM is investing in the future of music by helping this organization continue to work toward their mission.”

This may be the only fundraiser of its type.

“It’s probably the most unusual fundraiser I’ve ever worked with,” says Lynne Davis, a founder and former president of SFOM. “I’d never heard of a selling-the-keys event, but when I sent out an email telling a few friends about this wonderful piano, I had hardly gotten away from the computer when the phone rang.

“This idea was so unusual and as far as I was concerned, unique. The beauty of it is the piano will go to Garrison and a lot of people will have the opportunity to purchase a key.

“When the new auditorium is completed, many local organizations, not just schools, will have their events in that auditorium,” she says. “This will enable all these groups to use the auditorium. The money will go into SFOM’s treasury, which we keep giving away.”

Some of the concert’s performers have benefited from SFOM scholarships, Davis says. And donors are already stepping forward.

“I already have a few checks,” Davis says. “Several people called to say they are going to buy a piano key; they can’t decide which one.

“It should be a lot of fun. The plan is to have a banner made which will look like a piano keyboard. It’s large enough to put the name of the individual who purchased that key on the banner, which will be hung in the new Garrison auditorium.

“In February, probably at the Savannah Sings event at Garrison, we’ll recognize formally some of the donors,” Davis says. “We hope to be able to have a party or reception of some sort to recognize these people who made this possible.”

The concert and fundraiser are community events.

“The Savannah VOICE Festival people have been amazing,” Davis says. “All the publicity, mail-outs and designs are being done by the staff of the festival. I think that’s incredible.”

The first key actually purchased was from a family of a Garrison student.

“I hope we are going to be successful and will sell all of the keys,” Davis says. “We’ll put the piano in the auditorium, regardless of how much we make, but it would be lovely to sell all 88 keys.”


What: Support Something Grand Concert

When: 5 p.m. June 25

Where: Skidaway Island United Methodist Church, Bailey Hall, 54 Diamond Causeway