Piano maker, donor serve as Philharmonic guests

On a night devoted to a grand, stringed instrument, organizers figure a brief ceremony could tug on heartstrings of those attending.

That’s the way things shape up for the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic season-opening concert at 7:30 p.m. at Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus. The event, which has a good variety of tickets remaining, features unveiling of the professional orchestra’s new, world-class Shigeru Kawai Concert Grand Piano.

But more than that, the evening will include special guests — the generous people who made the gift possible.

Hirotaka Kawai, president and chief executive officer of Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co. in Ryuyo, Japan, will attend the concert. With him will be his longtime friend Junichi Suzuki, chief executive officer of Enkei Group, which donated the instrument to the orchestra in February as part of the company’s 30th anniversary.

The performance will feature pianist Sean Chen, a rising star in the orchestral world, performing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 3.”

“It will be a magical night,” said Peter King, Philharmonic board president.

In late September 2015, Japan’s Suzuki visited the Columbus Enkei plant as he always does that time of year. He later heard a small Philharmonic jazz and classical ensemble play at an Enkei outdoor gathering on the city’s north side.

Suzuki, a jazz fan, loved the group. Philharmonic board president Peter King casually mentioned in a conversation with Suzuki that the Philharmonic was aiming to garner support for a piano of its own.

Upon returning to Japan, Suzuki later met with Kawai, and they talked in part about the Philharmonic and its campaign for a piano.

The two met again a few weeks later and worked out a deal in full for the instrument.

“All the stars aligned,” King said. “It really was a total team effort.”

The orchestra will acknowledge the pair just after intermission, said Margaret Powers, Philharmonic executive director.

A night to remember

What: The debut of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s new world-class Shigeru Kawai Concert Grand Piano. Pianist Sean Chen will play Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 3.”

When: 7:30 p.m. today.

Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus.

Tickets: $5 to $50.

Information: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.