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April 22, 2013

Richland planning ‘grand’ addition

— Richland School District has “grand” plans for its Performing Arts Center.

Fundraising efforts by Richland’s theater and music boosters is allowing the district to add a Baldwin SD-10 grand piano to it’s music hall.

It’s a musical addition the district originally eyed when plans were drawn up for Richland Performing Arts Center. But budget constraints delayed the purchase of a new piano, which carried a six-figure price tag.

Instead, a fast-paced fundraiser is picking up most of the $31,000 tab to buy a used one from a Penn State professor and have it shipped to the school, Superintendent Thomas Fleming said.

“This is the same concert piano used at Lincoln Center,” district Performing Arts Center Director Scott Miller said, referring to Manhattan’s famed performing arts complex. “And it’s something that will outlast all of us if we take care of it. It’ll benefit generations of students.”

“This is the kind of investment that only grows,” added board member Michael Bodolosky, a longtime music educator with the district. “It’s a tool for world-class talent.”

Fellow district music department supporters apparently agreed.

Richland school officials learned about the used piano a little more than a month ago. In the three weeks that followed, boosters collected $26,900, Miller said.

More than 70 donors sent checks – most of them $50 or $100 – to adopt one of the piano’s 88 keys, the district’s website says.

Bodolosky’s family donated $2,500 toward the purchase, while 1st Summit Bank, Somerset Trust Co. and Richland choir director Kim Rauch donated $1,000.

To speed up the process, avoiding the need for public bids, the district is letting the boosters buy the piano. The district, meanwhile, voted Monday to donate its existing piano to the club, with the stipulation that it’s traded in at a pre-appraised $5,000 toward the cost.

Miller said the new piano will come with a fitted cover, bench and even an internal climate control system that will preserve its delicate internal workings.

“This was a great opportunity for our music program – and our students,” he said.

Bodolosky said the piano’s addition could open up opportunities for regional and district school music events at Richland as well as other performances.

A professional piano shipping company will encase the piano and carefully deliver it in the coming weeks, Miller said.

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