"It didn't mind being hauled around," Selmer Moen said about Christ Lutheran's Young Chang grand piano, which had been kept safely at Bethany Lutheran Church in Minot during and after the Souris River flood of 2011.
The grand piano was returned to Christ Lutheran, 502-17th St. NW, in September and now sits under the tall, bare wood ceiling of Christ Lutheran's sanctuary, a space mostly restored to its former glory and completely restored to its full usefulness.
Moen clapped twice to demonstrate the acoustics in the beautiful room. "It's a great place to play," he said.
Allen Drege, standing, started giving piano lessons to Selmer Moen, seated, in 1953. Drege and Moen will be among the musicians playing a Young Chang grand piano during a piano party Sunday in Christ Lutheran Church, Minot.
Jesse D. Watson/MDN
Services resumed at Christ Lutheran for Easter of 2012 and have been continuing, even as the building itself continues to undergo repair. Meanwhile, the large narthex leading into the sanctuary makes an excellent fellowship hall. The basement has been entirely gutted, removing all the asbestos from the 1960s building.
Moen said the piano party, happening Sunday, is not just to celebrate the return of the piano, but to memorialize another step in the rebuilding process.
"That's our hope (to convey that), anyway," he said, "making slow progress, small gains. Having the piano back means we're one step closer to being back completely."p
A piano party will be held Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Christ Lutheran Church, 502-17th St. NW.
Gospel music, favorite hymns, and classical music by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg will be performed by musicians including Selmer Moen, Allen Drege, Tammy Doerr, Roberta Johnson, Becky Long and others.
In the traditional Norwegian-Lutheran style, a fellowship, including desserts and coffee, will follow the musical program.
The event is free.
The piano party will be all piano, showcasing it as a solo instrument, an accompaniment instrument (in this case, for vocals), and as a member of an ensemble (with violin and cello).
Moen, who has been playing mandolin since 1985, will only be playing piano, which he's been playing since 1953, on Sunday.
Allen Drege, who happens to have been Moen's piano teacher all those years ago, will also be performing Sunday.
"God bless him for making me learn scales," Moen laughed. "I think I still have those little books."
"I've been trying to get away from that, you know," Drege said, referring to teaching piano. "I'm in my 80s now!"
The idea for the piano party came from Christ Lutheran's pastor, the Rev. Dave Maxfield. "He got all the musicians together," Moen explained, "which can be a bit like herding cats."
These cats will be playing for nearly an hour on Sunday. Drege and Moen said it's meant to be like an old-fashioned family time, gathered around a piano. "A congregation is supposed to be like a type of family," after all, Moen illuminated.
"It started as a Christ Lutheran thing," he continued, but folks were invited from Bethany Lutheran, where the piano had been stored. It seemed important to invite people from the neighborhood of Christ Lutheran as well since the entire area was obviously also affected by the flood. Drege and Moen wanted to extend the invitation to the community of the greater Minot area, too.
Drege said the piano itself is about 10 years old and comes from the Young Chang company. A big-ticket item, it was designed by Joseph Pramberger, whom Drege said had some kind of connection to Steinway, a hallowed name in pianos. The Young Chang Pramberger is considered to be one of their finest models, and Christ Lutheran's was built shortly before Pramberger's passing in 2003. It was purchased from Schmitt Music in Fargo. "They even gave us a loaner until this one was ready," Drege recalled. "Such great service."
One might be tempted to think the acoustics of the Christ Lutheran sanctuary would make even a bad piano sound divine. Moen explained that, rather, it would "just make it easier to hear a poor piano." This grand piano, situated in a grand acoustic space, is the real deal, Drege added.
The piano heard Sunday will be anything but poor-sounding, however, and while the damper pedal will no doubt be used, the party will not put a damper on what might be an otherwise ordinary Sunday afternoon.