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Harmony Preserved: Historic Grand Piano Loaned To Museum

By Karen Hughes

Christmas has come early for the Whanganui Regional Museum with the arrival of a grand piano made by the renowned German-American company, Steinway & Sons. The piano is on loan for one year from the New Zealand Opera School thanks to the generosity of Executive Chairman and Director of the school, Donald Trott, ONZM, JP.

The seven-foot Steinway Grand Piano was recently donated to the New Zealand Opera School by

Mr Simon Rutherford of Parnell, in memory of his partner Dr Rosemary Jane Horrocks.

Donald Trott had known Rosemary Horrocks for many years. “Rosie was a doctor, and a great supporter of the arts. Not only visual arts, but particularly opera and ballet. I knew Rosie very well from my directorship of New Zealand Opera Company Ltd in Auckland. She was a wonderful woman and through her practice in Parnell, very highly regarded.”

Simon Rutherford, a friend and associate of Donald’s, also gifted a harp to the New Zealand Opera School. “Simon has been very supportive of the school in his own particular way.”

A Model B 1896 edition, the Steinway grand piano has undergone full renovation before being transported directly from the South Island to the Museum, all facilitated by Donald Trott and Executive Assistant to the NZ Opera School, Debbie Macpherson. It is now situated in the Museum’s atrium space.

“My whole motive is to enhance our artistic community. That’s what the piano is there for.”

“When you think about it now, we’ve got a Steinway grand piano in the Museum, we’ve got a Steinway grand piano in the concert chamber at Whanganui War Memorial Centre, we’ve got a Steinway grand piano on the stage of the Royal Whanganui Opera House, and Helen Collier’s wonderful piano is being donated to the Sarjeant Gallery. At Whanganui Collegiate School, in the Big School, which is used a lot for events and concerts, they’ve got a full-size Steinway grand piano. We’re quite well off.”

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At the Museum, the piano will feature in a performance by NZ Opera School students in January, when the school celebrates its 30-year anniversary. As well, it will be utilised for other events and special occasions at the Museum. Outside of events, and during normal Museum opening hours, proficient players may request to play the piano.

“Whilst in my mind it was nice to have the piano in the museum for our concert, there will be so many others that will have the opportunity to use it. Even if they are not accomplished players - even if they want to play Chopsticks - the piano won’t mind.”

Whanganui Regional Museum Pou Ārahi/Director, Bronwyn Labrum said the loan was a generous offer from the NZ Opera School. “We’re delighted to have the piano because it enables us to support the Opera School and host recitals. It also enables us to have other events that take advantage of the fantastic acoustics in the Museum atrium. We look forward to further collaborations with the NZ Opera School.”

On Wednesday 10th January at 1pm, Aotearoa NZ Opera School students will perform a recital in the Museum, to celebrate 30 years of the NZ Opera School. The recital will include four singers, accompanied by Bruce Greenfield. Visit operaschool.org.nz for ticketing information.

Full resolution images can be downloaded from this online gallery (free): https://www.smugmug.com/app/organize/Steinway-Grand-Piano

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