Our community, united by a vision of artistic potential and regional pride, transformed The Middle School Auditorium into a vibrant cultural hub and an outstanding performance venue: The Whitefish Performing Arts Center.
With the understanding that a great performing arts center deserves–needs–a great piano, John Simpson, and several members of our community, initiated a fund and a search for an outstanding world class piano. The Steinway Piano Gallery in Spokane found an ideal beautiful sounding Concert and Artist series Steinway ‘D’ 9’ grand which was delivered to the Whitefish Performing Arts Center on February 28th, 2012. On March 10th, the renowned jazz pianist and arranger, Alan Broadbent, performed the first concert on the Steinway praising its evenness of tone as well as its action.
In May, jazz master Billy Wallace played solo and then joined The Four Freshmen enriching the quartet with the addition of his piano accompaniment. Alon Goldstein gracefully flew over its keys performing concertos by Beethoven and Mendelssohn during Glacier Symphony’s Amadeus Festival. Alon said our Whitefish piano is “Among the finest I’ve played in this country.” ATP’s tribute to Stephen Sondheim had the Steinway center stage all evening played by Kim Steiner, who said it was “One of the best pianos I’ve ever played”.
When we asked the brilliant French pianist and composer Michel Legrand what he thought of the Steinway, his face lit up, his hand went to his heart and he gave the piano a big thumbs up. Mr. Legrand was here to perform in concert with his lovely wife Catherine Michel on harp at the Performing Arts Center in September. He loved it, they loved Whitefish and Whitefish loved them.
In December, Mike Eldred gave a wonderful Christmas concert. His pianist, Jeff Steinberg called the Steinway “an absolute treasure” and said we are very fortunate to have such an excellent instrument. Every artist who has played the Steinway has had high praise for it.
The Steinway Fund made the down-payment and Whitefish Credit Union provided a loan for the balance. Funds have come in from concerts as well as contributions, including generous donations from Don Kaltschmidt, John Kramer, Al & Lisa Stinson, Rick & Alicia Blake, Ben & Roberta Whitten and many others. After the principle and interest is paid, we hope to leave behind a substantial long term maintenance fund. An acoustic console piano was purchased from this fund for everyday use at the middle school to save wear and tear on the concert grand.
In 2016, the loan for the Steinway was paid off. Moving forward, it will need to be maintained so that it continues to provide beautiful music for years to come.