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Posted Saturday, April 5, 2014
Siler City, NC — The idea took root two years ago when the All County Chorus performed at Jordan-Matthews. It was an evening of glorious choral music, performed beautifully by the community’s best vocalists. But there was only one wrong note: the piano.
"When we wheeled out the old upright from the chorus room, it looked really sad, and its sound didn’t come close to matching the quality of our students' performance," said chorus teacher Matt Fry. "That's when we started wondering if there was any way we could buy a new piano."
But budgets were tight at the school and district, and requests through the usual funding channels didn't bear fruit. So last fall, JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation, took up the cause and began a fundraising drive to purchase a used baby grand.
"We were a little nervous about committing to raise the thousands of dollars even a quality used piano would cost," said foundation president Rose Pate. "But Matt kept saying he thought we could pull it off. And he was right.
"The outpouring of support from all over the county was incredible, particularly from the Fearrington community. By January, just a few months after the campaign began, we had enough gifts and pledges to cover not only the cost of the piano, but also the cost of maintenance and building a secure place to store it.”
Fry chose to delay delivery of the instrument, a Kawai baby grand, until after the school's production of "Annie" and until the JM Carpentry II class could construct a storage room at the side of the stage. But fans had a sneak peek of the new piano during the Holiday Concert in December.
"Our donors had been so generous we wanted to give them a preview of the difference the piano could make for our students, so we decided to rent the piano for that event," said Fry. "The difference it made in the performance was tremendous."
The piano's delivery on Thursday was quite an event, with the students as excited as their teacher. “It’s extraordinary to think people gave enough money so we could have this amazing instrument that will be here for years,” said senior Heath Smith. “I will be the first JM student to play it in public during the Spring Festival of the Arts next week and I feel truly honored.”
"This beautiful instrument is going to take our music program to the next level," said Fry. "And I can't wait for everyone to hear the difference it makes."
JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation, is a nonprofit supporting arts education at Jordan-Matthews High School. In its largest annual project, the organization awards Summer Arts Scholarships to underclassmen, allowing them to attend life-changing summer arts experiences and bring their new expertise back to the school’s artistic community.
The foundation also provides transportation and admission for student-artists to experience professional performances and exhibitions, art supplies to enhance creativity and visiting artists to work with students. For more information, visit Facebook.com/JMHSArts.