January 6, 2013

Grand piano gift strikes right tone for UMA Senior College concert series

Classical and ragtime piano concert followed donation ceremony at Jewett Auditorium on Sunday

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- The University of Maine at Augusta Senior College's concert series started on the right note this year with the gift of a new grand piano to the university.

click image to enlarge

Pianist Masanobu Ikemiya rehearses Sunday on a grand piano donated to the University of Maine at Augusta by the school's Senior College. Ikemiya performed during a concert at Jewett Auditorium at UMA.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Handley thanks the school's Senior College after Tom Feagin, a director at the Senior College, right, donated a piano to the University of Maine at Augusta on Sunday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

UMA President Allyson Hughes Handley received the piano Sunday afternoon on UMA's behalf from Senior College Board of Directors Chairman Tom Feagin. A classical and ragtime piano concert followed the ceremony.

Handley said that with a tight university budget, a new piano wasn't high on the list of priorities. She said the piano will be used for the Senior College's Concerts at Jewett series, as well as by students and at other university events.

"It will be well used, but also well taken care of," she said.

While accepting the instrument, Handley said she told the audience of around 100 that the Senior College didn't need to donate a piano for the university to know the college's value to UMA.

"Nevertheless, the gift is music to our ears," she said, capping off a piano-pun-filled speech.

Feagin said pianist George Lopez told Senior College officials that their old piano needed work after he played at the venue in February.

"The old piano was kind of old and kind of shot," Feagin said.

The Senior College formed a committee to look into the possibility of buying a piano with the funds the college has raised from tuition, class fees and events, he said.

The 7-foot, 1-inch model from Hallet, Davis & Co. cost more than $23,000, according to university spokesman Bob Stein.

After the presentation, Feagin called pianist Masanobu Ikemiya onto the stage for a performance of both classical and ragtime music.

Ikemiya, who lives in Bar Harbor with his wife, has played concerts all over the world, in both large and small venues, he said.

He has played solo recitals at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as several charity concerts in Japan for the victims of 2011's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Ikemiya played at UMA's Jewett Auditorium two years ago, so he can attest to the poor quality of the previous piano. He said the new instrument sounds better than the old one.

"It has a lovely, beautiful tone that I like," he said of the new piano, "a nice, rich sound."

Ikemiya said he enjoys playing in Jewett Auditorium because the rising rows of seats allow him to see audience members' "smiling faces."

"Ultimately, music is communication of the heart and, in the end, communication of love," he said. "With this kind of set-up, it's very conducive of that."

Paul Koenig -- 621-5663

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