ENCINITAS — This year began with $3,000 already being raised toward the $22,000 needed for a new grand piano for the Encinitas Library. Monies were generated for the Encinitas Library Piano Fund through the 88 Key Program, a year-end giving effort sponsored by Friends of the Encinitas Library in partnership with the city of Encinitas Commission for the Arts.
Ultimately, 88 individual donations, the number of keys in a piano, at the tune of $250 each will be needed to achieve the goal of $22,000.
Dee Winn, a member of the Friends group, was the first of 12 donors to step up to the plate in December. Upon hearing the news that her $250 contribution will go toward the purchase of the ‘middle C,’ the most commonly recognized note, Winn explained that it will honor her late mother, Scotty Wendorf, an accomplished pianist.
“I took piano lessons from sixth to eighth grade until my mom said, ‘I’m not going to give you lessons anymore because you still can’t find the middle C,’” Winn recalls, acknowledging that she was never very musical. “Now I can say, ‘Mom, I finally found the middle C!’“
City arts administrator Jim Gilliam hopes a full keyboard of sponsorship will be secured by March 31. If more benefactors are found, Gilliam would like to purchase a top-of-the-line instrument on par with the Steinway concert grand piano the city rented in June when it was determined that the library’s existing piano was unrepairable.
“We scheduled bands and chamber music, even an opera recital, that were all free,” Gilliam said. “Every concert was packed. We had a fantastic response. It was a $78,000 Steinway. The goal of our 88 Key Program is to raise $22,000 but we’re hoping to get above and beyond that.”
Gilliam explains that all the great libraries, from San Francisco to Boston, have a first-class piano.
“A fine piano will attract the finest artists to our library,” he said. “Artists need to have a fine instrument and a quality space. Artists love to perform in our space, but we need the piano.”
Matt Tommasini, co-founder and composer-in-residence of the Connections Chamber Music Series, describes a bad experience he had performing on the library’s 50-year-old piano.
“We reluctantly used the existing piano at the library for a couple of our concerts last season,” he said. “The piano pedals didn’t work properly and the overall sound of the instrument took away from the audience’s appreciation of the music and the pianists’ performance.”
It was Tommasini’s experience that prompted the decision to rent the Steinway.
“I think the community of Encinitas deserves a great, quality piano that will enhance the listening enjoyment for audiences and really showcase the quality of the performers who present concerts at the library,” he said. “Connections fully supports the piano fundraising drive.”
To sponsor a piano key, send a check for $250 made payable to the Friends of the Encinitas Library to 540 Cornish Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024 and write “Piano Fund.” Friends is a not-for-profit organization, Tax ID #95-3533842. Sponsors will receive a letter of donation for their records. They’ll also be recognized on a special 88 Key donor plaque.