Special Bösendorfer Grand Piano Gifted to John Paul College

Tuesday 24, December 2019 | Community,News |

With deconstruction well underway in the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, much of the equipment is now either in storage, for re-use when the strengthened and redeveloped centre re-opens in 2021, or has been gifted to a range of community organisations around Rotorua, including schools, marae and community centres.

When the green light was given to start deconstruction, local firm Burton’s needed to remove all the equipment extremely quickly, and that included three of the four grand pianos. One of these, the Bösendorfer, has been gifted to John Paul College, for use in their new performing arts facility, due to open in 2020.

The Bösendorfer is Austrian made and was bought second hand back in the 1930s. It has a long history of performance in Rotorua and has reputedly been played by a number of internationally renowned concert pianists, including Michael Houston.

1930s Bösendorfer grand piano gifted by Rotorua Lakes Council to John Paul College

“Council wanted to find a safe and secure new home for the piano, where it could continue to be accessed by our community,” said John Paul College’s Board of Trustees Chair, Lyall Thurston. “The school’s new performing arts centre is due to open in 2020 and we are committed to it being available as a community facility, beyond the requirements of the school,” he said.

“This is a very special piano and it is critical that it remains in Rotorua, now and for future generations,” said Mr Thurston. “The piano does require some restoration work, but once it is performance ready it will be available for musical events such as recitals and music examinations,” he said.

The reconditioning required to bring the piano back up to performance standard includes replacing the strings and repairing some sulphur damage. The school will be applying for funding to enable these repairs.

John Paul College Music Teacher, Matt Czyrek is extremely excited about the gift.

“It is perfect timing,” said Mr Czyrek. “With the music and drama areas of the school’s performing arts centre now complete, the last stage is the new black box theatre which we will be opening towards the end of 2020, and that’s where the piano will have its new home.”

Rotorua Lakes Council Performing Arts Director Cian Elyse White is pleased that the piano is going to continue its rich life beyond the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

“It is our pleasure to see the piano move into its new home at John Paul College. It’s only fitting that it be gifted to Rangatahi to assist in growing local talent.”

Of the remaining three grand pianos, two have been temporarily relocated to other venues for the duration of the Sir Howard Morrison Centre closure. One Yamaha is in the Matariki Room at the Novotel where it is being used for chamber music concerts, and the second Yamaha has been loaned to the hospital chapel. The fourth grand piano, the Kawai, remains at the Sir Howard Morrison Centre in its specially constructed protective, environment-controlled box.