Grand piano donated to Corban
Ruthie LaFreniere (at piano) stands with music faculty members John Bartsch (left), Virginia Cross and Dan Shuholm to commemorate the donation.
December 18, 2009
Corban is the recipient of a 1952 Steinway M grand piano. Alumna Ruthie Edwards LaFreniere (’67) gifted the College with the piano, valued at $35,000.
“I have always known it was going to Corban,” said LaFreniere. “In my view, God loaned me the piano 40 years ago, and I’m just giving it back to Him.”
Originally purchased for $2,000 in the summer of ’69, the brown, 5’7” grand has appreciated well. “I bought it the same year the College moved from El Cerrito, Calif., to Salem,” noted LaFreniere.
She continued, “It’s been a traveling piano.” The Steinway not only served the LaFreniere family through five home relocations, but it has also blessed a higher education community and three, Salem church congregations (Bethany Baptist Church, Salem Heights Church, and Westminster Presbyterian) where it has spent time throughout these last 40 years.
LaFreniere was a member of the music faculty from ’67 to ’78. In ’69, she bought the piano and had it brought into her studio on campus, which was the upstairs wing of what is currently the library. Music Department Chair Dan Shuholm commented, “Ruthie’s grand was the primary performance piano during the eight years it lived here.”
As it comes full circle back to Corban, the grand is in excellent condition, mainly because it was rebuilt in 2007. Steve Ganz, a renowned piano rebuilder of the Northwest, was the piano’s servicer. He was impressed with the quality of the instrument. “I place it in the top five percent of Steinway M pianos,” he said.
Corban’s music faculty have already exercised the Steinway, as it was the performance piano for juries during final exams this semester. At least two dozen students have, therefore, “tested” the piano while being tested themselves. Professor of Music Virginia Cross said, “Piano juries are allowing us music faculty to evaluate the best way to use the Steinway.”
LaFreniere, who still teaches voice and piano in the Salem area and has taught for more than 50 years, said she will be forever grateful for the education she received from Corban. “What a legacy it’s left me—and not just the music department. Coming to the College was the smartest and best thing I could ever do in my life. I can’t say enough good things about it.”
Shuholm was appreciative of the alumna’s generosity. He said, “Much connecting with our past makes a tremendous difference in our ‘present.’”
By Jenny Hirschfelder, Staff Writer, Office of Marketing & Communications
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