Sergei Saratovsky leans against NOCCA’s 1887 Steinway before a performance at the Performing Arts Centre that was so dramatic

Sergei Saratovsky leans against NOCCA’s 1887 Steinway before a performance at the Performing Arts Centre that was so dramatic

Vernon and NOCCA say goodbye to the old ‘warhorse’

North Okanagan Community Concert Association's 1887 Hamburg Steinway is being retired to make way for the new concert grand.

Its keys have been caressed and pounded by such classical luminaries as Jan Lisiecki, Sergei Saratovsky, and Jaime Parker to name but a very few.

Even Music Box Dancer’s Frank Mills, boogie woogie master Michael Kaeshammer, pop star Chantal Kreviazuk and rock legends Burton Cummings and Bryan Adams have sat at its bench.

Visitors to NOCCA’s gala community concert Saturday, Oct. 29 will have one final chance to say goodbye to the old “warhorse” Hamburg Steinway, which is being retired to make way for the new concert grand.

“The piano has brought much musical excitement and enjoyment to the North Okanagan since it arrived in 1953,” said NOCCA president Paul Maynes. “It has been played by soloists and accompanists alike to the delight of Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre audiences.”

After forming in 1953, and renting a piano for its first few concerts, the North Okanagan Community Concert Association decided to purchase its own piano. They heard about an 1887 nine-foot Steinway grand, originally built in New York, that had recently been reconditioned and bought by the Steinway factory in Hamburg, Germany.

The association arranged to have the piano shipped to B.C.

“That piano, with duty, sales tax, insurance, the bench, etc., cost us a total of $3,253. It was valued at $90,000 13 years ago,” said original NOCCA board member Joey Karen in a 2013 interview.

Literally hundreds of musicians have played on the Steinway’s keys since, from Fou T’son from China, Gusto Romero from Mexico, and Austrian-born Canadian Anton Kuerti.

Piano restorer Marinus van Prattenburg of Peachland rebuilt the piano in 2003 to save the association from spending $150,000 for a new one.

But alas, the piano had seen better days so it was decided more than four years ago that the association would seek out to purchase a new piano.

Now with the arrival of the new 1978 Hamburg Steinway, the old piano will be taken to Vancouver to enjoy its retirement in peace.