Donors can buy keys to help restore Lexington Opera House piano

bfortune@herald-leader.comJanuary 17, 2013 

The Steinway concert grand piano at the Lexington Opera House has made beautiful music for 37 years, but the elegant instrument needs restoration at an estimated cost of $52,800.

Donors can buy a piano key to help pay for the restoration through the opera house's fundraising campaign called 88 Keys. That's the number of black and white keys on a standard piano.

Each key has been assigned a dollar value, depending on where it is on the keyboard. The keys vary in value, generally between $100 and $800. The most expensive key is $1,500 for middle C.

Everett McCorvey, director of the University of Kentucky opera program, was the first donor. McCorvey bought the middle C.

"We will put all the donors' names on a plaque that will be hung in the Opera House," LuAnn Franklin, Opera House director of performing arts, told the Lexington Center board at its meeting Thursday.

The goal is to raise $26,400 in two months. Donations will be matched by the Lexington Center Corp., said Bill Owen, the Lexington Center president and CEO. Restoration will take 18 months.

Franklin said a new Steinway costs between $180,000 and $200,000.

The Steinway was a gift to the Opera House from an anonymous donor in 1976, after the building was completely renovated. The piano has been played by Grammy-winning performers Randy Newman, George Winston and Diane Schuur, and the Steinway has accompanied the UK opera program and the Lexington Singers, Franklin said.

Go to Lexingtonoperahouse.com/88keys and roll over each key to see which ones are available. Pledge cards can be downloaded at the same site.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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