This is a story of a Steinway. As a hand-crafted musical instrument comprised of more than 12,000 parts, a Steinway grand piano takes a full year to build. A Steinway grand piano takes at least 12 years to arrive. The people of Cannon Beach Community Church first dreamed of bringing a concert quality grand piano to Cannon Beach in 2005, the year we celebrated our 75th anniversary as a local church. The North Coast has relatively few quality performing arts venues, and even fewer concert quality grand pianos. The renovation of the Liberty Theatre, completed in 1998, including the addition of a 9-foot Steinway Model D grand piano, added a much needed quality musical venue with a concert quality grand piano to our region. As of August, Cannon Beach Community Church has done the same.
The story of a Steinway in Cannon Beach begins in 1930, the year Cannon Beach Community Church was chartered, 27 years before Cannon Beach was officially incorporated as a city. I came to Cannon Beach with our family of five in 1993 to begin serving as lead pastor of Cannon Beach Community Church. At that time, Community Church had a tired, old electric organ and a decent Yamaha upright piano. As a pastor, worship leader, and jazz pianist, I knew we needed to upgrade our musical instruments at some time in the future. In 1997, we remodeled and expanded the sanctuary of Community Church, producing a mid-sized performing arts venue with high-quality acoustics and a beautiful sacred worship space that seats 200. In 2004, a couple in the congregation donated a new Rodgers Artist’s Series digital organ in memory of their daughter who died of cancer. The $35,000 organ they donated was a major upgrade from our previous instrument.
In January 2005, at our annual congregational meeting, I announced to the people of Community Church that we hoped to bring a grand piano to celebrate our 75 years of ministry and worship, but we had not budgeted the $50,000 for this instrument. I asked the people to join in the search for a grand piano. In June 2005, the director of the Coaster Theatre called me asking if we wanted a baby grand piano “on permanent loan.” We received the gift of an older Young Chang baby grand piano that year. Eleven years later, in 2016, a widowed friend asked what it would take to bring a concert quality grand piano to the church to replace the baby grand loaner piano. She offered the first $10,000 to kick-start our grand piano fund in December 2016. Over the next eight months, the people of Cannon Beach Community Church donated over $50,000 towards this grand piano fund. We received a wide variety of financial gifts, large and small, from young people who love the upbeat music of our contemporary worship band, gifts from elderly widows who love singing the wonderful old hymns, and gifts from people on the Cannon Beach Community who love the sanctuary as a performing arts venue. One such donor, the Cannon Beach Chorus, celebrates 30 years of choral music this year, with weekly rehearsals held on Monday evenings at Cannon Beach Community Church, drawing singers from up and down the Coast.
Our grand piano taskforce began shopping for a new grand piano in June 2017. We discovered a concert-quality Steinway Model B Grand Piano built in 2008, on sale at Michelle’s Piano Company, Home of Steinway in Portland. Compared to the many grand pianos we tried, this 2008 Steinway Grand Piano sang with such depth, richness, warmth, and clarity that we knew it was meant to come home to Cannon Beach. The Steinway Model B is “often referred to by pianists as ‘the perfect piano.’ It is a wonderfully balanced and versatile instrument that does extremely well in midsized venues.”
We presented this 2008 Steinway Model B grand piano to the congregation because it was beyond our fundraising price range, but within a week, an additional $10,000 arrived unexpectedly from several unknown donors, allowing us to purchase the instrument.
Our Steinway Model B grand piano was delivered on Aug. 3, and has begun her service of providing depth, richness, and warmth to our weekly worship services, including during our Sunday contemporary worship at 9 a.m., during our Sunday classic worship at 10:45 a.m., and at our twice a month Evensong (Taize-style) worship on the first and third Sundays at 6 p.m.
Stephen Beus will play a free 30-minute “Kid’s Concert” on Friday, Oct. 20, at 6 p.m. at Cannon Beach Community Church, a half-hour interactive, “child-friendly” piano mini-concert, free and open to the public, especially younger kids and their parents or grandparents.
David Robinson is a resident of Cannon Beach, serving as lead pastor of Cannon Beach Community Church since 1993, and also a jazz pianist, and author of numerous books on spirituality.