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Nelson School of Music Given New Piano

The Nelson School of Music is being gifted a new Steinway grand piano by local businessman Murray Sturgeon and his wife Jocelyn.

Announcing the gift today, the Chairman of the Nelson School of Music Trust Board, Peter Robins said the Steinway Concert D Grand Piano would be a significant asset to the school.

“It will enable the school to continue its long tradition of attracting New Zealand's and the world's best musicians to perform in its unique auditorium,” he said. “Murray and Jocelyn have been supporters of the school for an extended period and this generous gift will be a constant reminder of that support for many decades to come."

Mr Sturgeon said it was a private donation that came about after it was brought to his attention that the school was looking to replace its aging Steinway.

“The trust accepted my offer of assistance and assigned the project of replacing the Steinway to Jocelyn and me,” he said. “We were very fortunate to be able enlist the assistance of London based pianist Piers Lane, who has performed in the School of Music auditorium and is familiar with its acoustics.”

The Sturgeons extended an overseas trip earlier this month to be in Hamburg when the selection was being made. “We were welcomed to the Steinway factory and saw the traditional way that the pianos are crafted,” Mr Sturgeon said. “We joined Piers in the selection room when he had narrowed the process down to the final three – being part of the selection is one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.”

Mr Sturgeon said while many people bequeath money in their wills to organisations they support, he and Jocelyn decided to make the gift of the Steinway as something they can enjoy themselves, along with all the other music lovers of Nelson.

Frances McElhinney, Manager of the Nelson School of Music says the Sturgeon’s gift of the Steinway is unprecedented in New Zealand. “The Steinway agent told me this has never happened before,” he said. ”I am ecstatic about the opportunities this piano will provide for the School and delighted that Murray and Jocelyn will share in the pleasure of their gift to the community.”

Mrs McElhinney said she also wanted to thank those who had been working behind the scenes to raise money for a new piano.

“We have very generous donations from the SBS Antique & Retro Extravaganza and the Play It Again Auction Ltd that can now be used to build a suitable storage area for the Steinway,” she said, “I would also like to thank Philip Woollaston and the other members of the trust that had been working to raise the funds for a new piano – they are very pleased to have their job completed so fast and with such generosity.”

The piano is being air-freighted to Nelson and will go into immediate use, however an inaugural concert is planned for March, with School of Music Patron, Michael Houstoun.

ENDS

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