Patricia Stowell first played the Arlan A. Baillie Steinway Piano at All Souls Congregational Church in Bangor 25 years ago.
The rebuilt instrument, a 1916 Model B grand piano with a mahogany finish, hadn’t been tuned or broken in yet, but Stowell knew its acquisition marked the beginning of something special.
On Sept. 25, Stowell will play some of her own works on the same piano to mark the first quarter century of the Arlan A. Baillie Steinway Performance Series at All Souls, located at 10 Broadway. The concert also will be performed Sept. 23 at Union Hall in Rockport.
The series is made up of three concerts a year that are free and open to the public. The pandemic caused the series to go on hiatus, but it is returning this year with two pianists and four singers.
Soprano Jennifer Bates of Nobleboro said she is “thrilled and delighted” to sing Stowell’s songs.
“They are a challenge to sing but interesting,” said Bates, who specializes in modern and baroque operas. Stowell “has an incredible musicality.”
Bates, who performed in 2018 with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono for Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, has not performed at All Souls before.
“For me, the concert hall is equally as sacred a space as is All Souls,” Bates said. “It’s all spiritual. Finding human connection via the music is the spiritual practice.”
The piano and the concert series is named for a former minister at All Souls. Baillie served as pastor of the congregation from 1943 to 1955. He was a music lover and gifted singer.
One of his young charges was Christopher Hutchins, who grew up to be a prominent businessman with an interest in music and philanthropy.
After Baillie’s death in 1994, All Souls was looking for a way to honor Baillie, whose dream was to install a grand piano in the meetinghouse, where worship services are held, and of sponsoring a music program at the church.
Two years later, Hutchins learned of a Steinway piano being auctioned off in Orono. He attended the auction with the intention of being the highest bidder and donating the instrument to All Souls.
“It was perfect,” he told the Bangor Daily News in 1997, shortly before the first concert in the Arlan A. Baillie Steinway Performance Series. “It was beat up, abused and didn’t sound good. It had no redeeming features. Except it was a Model B Steinway. And I don’t care what condition a B Steinway is in, it’s a good piano.”
Hutchins turned to M. Steinert and Sons, a Steinway piano dealer in Boston, for advice on where to have the instrument restored.
There are three steps to restoring a piano, Drew Lydotes, director of technical services at Steinert, told the BDN 25 years ago.
The first step, the structural restoration, took place at the Steinway & Sons factory in Long Island City, New York. The rebuild of the action, or guts, of the piano, took place at Steinert, with Lydotes overseeing the detailed operation. The third step, refinishing the case, was done by an independent contractor in Stoneham, Massachusetts, with key replacement done at the Wells, Maine, business of master key restorer Russell Grethe.
The cost of the work in 1997 was about $20,000, or about $37,000 in 2022 dollars.
Hutchins died in 2018 at the age of 80. His wife, Sandra Hutchins, died two years earlier. In addition to purchasing the piano and paying to have it refurbished, the couple funded the concert series in perpetuity.
The Arlan A. Baillie Steinway Performance Series concert will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at Union Hall, 24 Central Street, Rockport, and at 2 p.m. Sept. 25 at All Souls Church, 10 Broadway, Bangor. Masks will be required at the church.