The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, held every two years in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is one of the largest and most wonderful piano events in the world. For twenty days straight, great pianists are brought to town to perform and speak, and informative piano-related events are scheduled using every possible concert venue in Kalamazoo and in surrounding areas. Right around Gilmore Festival time in 2016, Michael Palmer, Ministry Director for Music and Worship Arts at First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo, approached our Institutional Director, Wilbur Miller, about a Steinway grand piano for his church. Mr. Palmer wanted a suitable piano for worship and for other musical events at the church, including possible Gilmore Festival events. When we met at the church for the first time, Wilbur was astounded at the beauty and the acoustics of the incredible space.
Steinway & Sons builds the world’s finest pianos by hand with each one unique in its tone and touch. In conjunction with the pianos being delivered to the city for the Gilmore Festival, Steinway Piano Gallery transported three Steinway Model B’s to the church. One was brand new. The second was part of Steinway’s Concert & Artist Pool, and the third was a pristine pre-owned Steinway. During the next few days, Mr. Palmer and staff musicians, Kory Heitzig and Michensey Hamlin, created opportunities to use the pianos in various ways as a solo instrument and with different musical groups and ensembles within the church. Based on their experience, they chose the Steinway from the Artist Pool, an incredible Steinway B manufactured in 2010.
On Sunday, November 11th, the church celebrated their new Steinway with a spectacular dedication program. The new Steinway was used with The Chancel Choir, The Academy Handbell Choir, The Choral Ensemble, violinist Barry Ross, and pianists Sophie and Pierre van der Westhuizen, Kory Heitzig, Maggie Kieckhafer, and Michensey Hamlin.
“The Steinway is simply wonderful. Kory and Michensey are on Cloud 9 just taking the cover off of it. Most of the time I walk around mumbling, “I can’t believe we have a Steinway …” – Michael Palmer
If you want to know more about a Steinway for your school or church, Wilbur Miller is eager to help you find your very own Steinway, too!