Calvin Jones, composer, standing with Laura, the donor behind St. Paul’s Evangelical Reformed Church new grand piano. (Photo submitted by Pastor Dan Schnabel)

There’s nothing quite so wonderful as receiving a gift, especially when it’s one that a person or community will use quite often. One such gift has been donated to St. Paul’s Evangelical Reformed Church in Hamburg this month in the form of a grand piano. This is not only an uncommon occurrence, but the piano was first played by artist Calvin Jones as part of a concert for all to enjoy on Sept. 22.

“We’ve been blessed with many accompanists,” said Pastor Dan Schnabel. “This church has been very oriented heavily towards music and enjoying its music.”

St. Paul’s in Hamburg has always been a very musical church. With a pipe organ and Clavinova piano on hand already, playing of the instruments and singing along was always a feature. One of their instruments, the Clavinova, was aging and going out of tune slightly. As an electric piano, it can’t exactly be tuned, so a replacement was needed.

This isn’t a frequent request, according to Schnabel. In fact, the church rarely goes for donations such as this one. However, the congregation acknowledged the need, and got to work. The church received a donation from a member named Laura, who is very “musically inclined” according to Schnabel. Her donation allowed the church to get to work finding a piano.

Donation funds in hand, Schnabel reached out to a surprising source in an old friend: Calvin Jones. Jones is a recognized composer, with his music most notably appearing in the Miss America Pageant and various films, and his most notable piece being “White Water Chopsticks”. He agreed to help find a grand piano suitable for the donation and church, and began reaching out to contacts across the US. Eventually, Jones found a good fit: a Yamaha C6.

This is already a grand piano that comes with all the normal features, but it comes with a little bonus in a disklavier. This allows the piano to record when someone plays and those recordings can be played back automatically, which in the event that one of the six accompanists aren’t available, the music can still be enjoyed.

“We wanted to be able to be able to do the same thing we did with the Clavinova,” said Schnabel.

To welcome the new addition to the church, Schnabel asked Jones if he was able to put on a free concert for the congregation and the community. Jones took Schnabel up on the offer, and played to a large crowd on Sept. 22. According to Schnabel, news of Jones’s concert brought fans from over a 100 miles away, so it served as a great way to celebrate the donation.

With the new grand piano in place, the church isn’t seeking more instrument donations anytime soon. In fact, this was a rare circumstance, according to Schnabel, one that led to quite a happy result. The piano will be used, in person or automatically, for services going forward. The Clavinova and pipe organ certainly aren’t going anywhere, either, and are now a trio.

“We are truly thankful for this blessing,” said Schnabel. “We enjoy music here, and this gift is such a perfect fit for us.”

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