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The Grand Pianos
The Jacksonville Center for the Arts purchased two grand pianos, a Baldwin Grand L Piano and a Steinway D Concert Grand Piano, from MacMurray College shortly after its closure in 2020. These Grand Pianos were part of the rich musical tradition at MacMurray and delighted Jacksonville audiences during countless performances over the years. By purchasing the Pianos, JCA has preserved them for the Jacksonville community and will become located in the Civic Center once constructed. In the meantime, these Grand Pianos are on loan to two Jacksonville churches, Centenary Methodist and Our Saviour.
The Baldwin Grand graces the Sanctuary at Our Saviour Catholic Church. Countless parishioners and visitors have marveled at the Baldwin Grand's beautiful sound, according to Our Saviour's Pastor Reverend Joe Ring. The Baldwin is an integral part of Our Saviour's weekly Masses and other services like weddings and funerals throughout the year. The Piano is used to accompany the youth, adult and contemporary choirs, as well as the bell choir and solo instruments. The Baldwin Grand is a testament to the high level of music at the former MacMurray College. Father Ring says it is a privilege to share this legacy with the Jacksonville community.
The Steinway Grand Piano has a distinguished history. Internationally acclaimed pianist Van Cliburn assisted MacMurray College when it purchased the Steinway in the 1960s. The Piano bears Van Cliburn's personal signature which is special for Terri Benz who is the Director of Music for Centenary Methodist Church and who played the Piano when she was a MacMurray College student and later as a faculty member. Terri recalls giving lessons to students on the piano as well as wonderful performances in which the Steinway had a central musical role.
The Steinway's temporary home is in Centenary's Sanctuary. Terri describes the Steinway as producing a powerful, expressive sound in both volume and rich sonorities. It loses nothing when played softly, but gains worlds of expression. The distinctive Steinway sounds enhances Centenary's weekly worship services, weddings, funerals, and other special events. During this pandemic time, the Piano has been played as part of virtual performances of the Jacksonville Symphony.
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