This piano has truly mingled with the stars.
For 14 years until 2002, the 9-foot Steinway concert grand had been the favorite piano at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Calif.
There, the piano got a workout from hundreds of the world’s most famous performers. The list of those who tinkled this piano’s ivories adds up to form a veritable who’s-who and includes Victor Borge, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, The Monkees, The Psychedelic Furs, The Go Go’s, Randy Newman.
The list goes on and on.
The piano was donated to the McCallum Theatre in 1988 by the Palm Springs Friends of Philharmonic. When it left the McCallum, it arrived in Prosser, Wash., where it underwent a massive, 1 1/2-year restoration that ended in a hand-rubbed Ebony satin finish.
The piano is worth about $65,000. But the worth of its history cannot really be measured.
The piano will prove invaluable to the community of Arlington.
The piano was donated again, this time to the new Arlington Performing Arts Center. George and Annalee Boulton made the donation. Their son Kenneth graduated in 1980 from Arlington High School.
After a long wait, the people of Arlington will get to celebrate their new performing arts center during its grand opening this weekend. Some residents heard Kenneth Boulton play that piano on Thursday night.
This grand opening weekend will include lots of music from local musicians, a Dr. Seuss play, face painting, clowns and time to enjoy and tour the lush quarters of the Performing Arts Center.
The center, built with a combination of public money and lots of private donations, is an Arlington School District building but will be run jointly by the school district and the city of Arlington.
The district is planning that school performances will book the center for up to 60 nights for the 2007-08 school year. The next priority is for the city to book gigs, said Warren Hopkins, the district’s deputy superintendent.
The city has hired a promotions person for the venue. Already, some events are planned, such as a body-builders show set for August.
“Our hope is every day we don’t use it, it will be filled with some event,” Hopkins said. “There is nothing in north county that compares to this. It’s unique within the city.”
The Missoula Children’s Theatre has expressed interest, as has the Everett Symphony.
The Everett Symphony doesn’t have its own concert hall and currently performs at Everett Civic Auditorium on the Everett High School campus. Everett conductor Paul-Elliott Cobbs has already visited the new Arlington facility and has gotten involved in some fundraising efforts, Hopkins said.
“We’re hoping to get them out here once or twice,” Hopkins said of the symphony.
The lobby of the center is spacious and airy and will be home to two pieces to be done by local glass artist Kurt McVay. McVay will be making a gift of a chandelier to be hung in the lobby.
“It’s really a huge gift,” Hopkins said.
The artist is also erecting a donor wall made of glass in which will be etched the names of 108 individuals, businesses and foundations that have given at least $5,000 to the project.
Past the lobby, visitors enter the stunning auditorium, done in muted blue seats – there are 700 of them – that are arranged with a gentle slope that provides excellent seating anywhere. The walls are done in birch veneer that gives off a warm, caramel-colored glow.
The stage is set up so a walkway can be configured if necessary as well as an orchestra pit that would seat up to 100 players.
The scene shop, right next to the stage, is an area where students can hold classes and hone their theater skills.
While walking through the new center, Kay Duskin, grand opening chairwoman and Arlington School Board president, maintained a perpetual smile – a smile of excitement and of pride.
“Funding for music and arts, it’s a priority for the school board. It’s just as important as athletics,” Duskin said. “And we made that commitment as a board.”
Arts writer Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new Arlington performing arts center has opening festivities this weekend.
Bob Nydegger is the theater manager at the new Arlington Performing Arts Center.