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Oregon congregation secures the finest piano available to enhance music ministry

By Ronald E. Keener

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Salem, OR, has become the first church and the third institution in the United States to purchase the acclaimed Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano. The church last fall took delivery of the 9-foot state-of-the-art instrument.

Dr. Paul Klemme, director of Music Ministries, says “We had an overflow crowd at both services. The instrument was extremely well-received.”

The purchase culminated Klemme’s quest to replace a smaller, aging grand piano in the church’s nave. Parishioners Lester and Marylou Green offered to buy a fine piano in recognition of the church’s rich musical heritage, which includes concerts by visiting artists from all over the world, including Chanticleer, Canadian Brass, Worcester Cathedral Men and Boys Choir and the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Men and Boys Choir.

Looking to the significance of the piano in the future, Klemme believes that the Yamaha will allow the church to attract major recitalists. “We did not have an adequate concert piano to bring major artists to play recitals,” Klemme said, but “now we do. Introduced in January 2010 in the United States, the nine-foot CFX concert grand is Yamaha’s flagship concert grand model.

Church Executive, in this age of praise music and keyboards, asked Dr. Klemme about the significance of the new piano:

What makes the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano so grand, state of the art?

The thing that separates the CFX from other Yamaha and other concert grands is its true perfection and even scale of sound from bottom to top. It has a rich bass but a mellower top and middle.

The overall sound for the listener is quite a bit louder and fuller than any other grand piano.  It was the goal of the company to build a piano that can play above a symphony orchestra.

Finally the touch is fantastic, very comfortable and even.

What is the extent of the church’s music ministries, especially in a church of 400 people)?

The music ministry at St. Paul’s include two grand pianos, two tracker organs, seven singing choirs, two bell choirs, two guitar ensembles, brass ensemble and a concert series that bring artists from local, regional, national and international locations. We have one full time music minister, plus six part-time.

Is there an organ in the church too?

The piano will be used mostly for special concerts and worship services along with four hand piano music. The church blends many different styles of music into the four services held on Sundays including “contemporary Christian.” The organ is used every Sunday. It is a Gabriel Kney — neo baroque tracker action instrument of 22 stops from 1975.

For people who know pianos, what is it that they listen for when comparing them?

I listened for richness of sound and an even spectrum from top to bottom. It is certainly a taste issue but in my research I found almost every piano I tried to have some inconsistency in this arena. The CFX, however, did not.

This piano has the strength and carrying power to lead a full congregation in singing without the aid of microphone.

What was the purchase price of the piano?

I prefer not to reveal the purchase price, but the suggested MSRP is $150,000.

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