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A grand gift for music

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Mandy Zajac writes and edits arts, entertainment and lifestyle content for the Get Out section of the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 7:45 am

When the Ravenscroft Trio performs Saturday night at Tempe Center for the Arts, they’ll share the spotlight with a fourth entity on stage — a piano.

“It is arguably one of the finest pianos in the world,” says Woody Wilson of Lakeshore Music, producer of jazz programming at TCA. “It’s hard to get people to believe that. They think, ‘Oh, it’s just made here in Scottsdale,’ but every musician I’ve booked to come through (the TCA) has marveled at it. They all say it’s a marvel to play.”

Called the Ravenscroft 275 Grand Piano, the instrument is a gift to the city of Tempe from jazz pianist, educator and philanthropist Bob Ravenscroft, of the aforementioned trio. He will play it Saturday, after Mayor Hugh Hallman holds a ribbon cutting and dedication.

“It’s a very big step forward for us,” says Wilson. “... (W)ith the gift to TCA of this incomparable piano, our patrons will experience performances on a par with any in the world.”

The piano was handcrafted by custom piano maker Michael Spreeman, who once worked as a piano technician for Arizona State University.

At 9 feet, it took nearly two years to build, with materials coming from all over the world.

“The Ravenscroft is made by hand, by one or two guys, in a shop up at the airpark in Scottsdale, and it takes months and months and months to do this. You really have to know what you’re doing. It’s a specialty, and it’s proprietary, really. There is wood (inside the piano) from specific forests in Europe, forests that harvest wood just for the purpose of putting in pianos. Everything in it is top shelf,” says Wilson.

The concert grand piano is the first of Spreeman’s Ravenscrofts (there are seven) to “live” in a performance venue. Those who have heard it say its sound is pure but complex, clean but lush.

“We’re trying to build our jazz series with some of the finest piano players in the world, and that’s not hyperbole — that’s what we bring through the TCA. Having a piano like this for those musicians to play on — we’re happy to have it,” says Wilson.

Saturday’s concert will feature Dwight Kilian on bass and Rob Moore on drums. It is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. Tickets, $35, can be purchased at the box office, by phone at (480) 350-2822 or online at www.tempe.gov/tca

Information on Lakeshore Music’s upcoming concerts is available at www.lakeshoremusic.org

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

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Mandy Zajac
  • Mandy Zajac
  • E-mail: azajac@evtrib.com
  • Phone: (480) 898-6818
  • Mandy Zajac writes and edits arts, entertainment and lifestyle content for the Get Out section of the East Valley Tribune.

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