What an incredible joy it was this year at our Jazz Mass, unveiling our beautiful new grand piano! For many of you this was probably quite the unexpected surprise, since we hadn’t previously said much about needing a new piano. In truth this project has been a dream since 2016, when I first arrived at SSPP. At that time we in parish leadership knew that we needed a replacement for our aging grand piano, but we also knew that a project of such magnitude would require a little extra “help from above”.

We couldn’t have predicted many of the things that have happened in the past 2 years, but we also couldn’t have predicted that during a global pandemic there could be some unexpected opportunities for our parish. Our new relationship with Fever Detroit is one of those opportunities. When Fever first contacted us about hosting their Candlelight Concerts I felt full of excitement but also trepidation, not knowing what to expect. What we have gotten has been an incredible blessing and a wonderful relationship between two organizations who care about culture and community in Detroit. Because of our relationship with Fever we have had the opportunity to open our doors to hundreds of people who may not have even known we were here, and I know that many of them have connected with us on Social Media and some have even attended our Masses. Our relationship with Fever has of course had some financial benefits as well, and that is where we return to our new piano.

Perhaps you have wondered why we needed a new piano to begin with. Our previous George Steck piano was aging – in fact we learned that it was 75 years old. You might ask if a 75 year old piano could be considered a worthy antique, but it’s not quite that simple. Pianos are a lot like cars. An older piano requires a lot more upkeep, and sometimes the decline is such that the repair can be more costly than the value of the instrument. In the case of our old piano in particular, the structural decay was such that the instrument could no longer stay in tune and so we were having to have it tuned several times per year. It was missing some strings, and the hammers were very worn down and hardened, resulting in a tinny sound.

Whenever I thought about selecting a new piano for SSPP, I would consider what type of piano would be worthy of our magnificent space. Should it be new or used? Should it be one of the notable brands, like Steinway? Once we realized the purchase of a new piano was going to be possible, I began to do some research, including visiting local piano dealers Evola Music and Steinway Piano Gallery, and talking to a few piano technicians. I have always been a big fan of the Kawai piano company, carried by Evola. The reason I enjoy these pianos is partly their fantastic touch and sound, but there is more to it than that. Kawai is known for using carbon fiber in the action of their pianos. The action refers to the delicate moving parts that connect to the hammers. Traditionally these parts are made of wood. As we all know, wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity and temperature, and so pianos that are kept in spaces where the climate is inconsistent, such as churches, tend to develop problems in the action. Kawai found a way to counter these problems by using carbon fiber materials in some of the parts of their action, thus producing a more stable action. Carbon fiber materials are used in many applications beyond musical instruments, including airplanes, race cars, sports equipment, and bridges. Carbon fibers are strong and light and have a long endurance. The original Kawai company, K. Kawai, has been making world class pianos for nearly 100 years and pioneered the use of carbon fiber in pianos. Our piano, however, is not made by the K. Kawai brand. Instead, it comes from Shigeru Kawai, the offshoot company founded by the son of Kawai founder Koichi. Shigeru wanted to take piano design and building to the next level, so he founded his brand specializing in top quality handmade pianos. Each Shigeru Kawai piano is built by a team who is overseen by a Master Piano Artisan. In Japanese tradition signing one’s name to something is a particular sign of honor and pride, and so the Master Artisan signs his name to each piano that he oversees. In the case of our piano we have a hand signed card from Masimichi Sato, the Master who oversaw the building of our piano. We will be framing the card to display proudly near the piano.

Our acquisition of this piano could not have been possible without the team at Evola music, especially Mark Martin and Dave Monaghan. Mark in particular is a good friend of our parish. Evola was able to offer us a particularly good deal on the purchase of our Shigeru Kawai piano, and the final cost was significantly below “sticker price”.

Thankfully our relationship with Fever has allowed us to pay the majority of the cost toward our new piano, but we still have some funds to raise. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and parishioners, as of this date we have raised over $9,000! We still have just over $3,000 left to pay off the remainder of our balance, and so we are asking for your help. Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated. Our new piano is an investment that will serve our parish for many decades to come. We truly believe that by elevating our interior ministries, such as our liturgy and music, we also strengthen our exterior ministries. In order to meet our call to mission in the world, we must first gather and be fed by the Word and the Eucharist. Music, sung praise and prayer, is an important part of what we do when we gather, and so by strengthening our Music Ministry we deepen the prayer of our community.

If you are able to make a contribution to our new piano click here to be taken to a simple online payment form, or alternately you can pick up a donation envelope next time you attend Mass and put your contribution in the offertory basket. We are truly thankful for your support, and in the spirit of Blessed Solanus Casey we give thanks ahead of time for your generosity.