The parlor grand piano in the OPC sanctuary has a backstory. It was a gift from a member of the church. The piano, in turn, had been a gift to his father for a very special project.
A landmark recording
Mark Andrews (1875-1939) was a distinguished organist in the early 20th Century. He was also a recording artist for RCA Victor. During the 1920s Andrews made a number of solo organ recordings, with music Felix Mendelssohn, Giacomo Rossini, Richard Wagner, and Gabriel Fauré.
In 1929 RCA commissioned Andrews to supervise a recording of "The Crucifixion," a popular Victorian era oratorio by John Stainer.
Andrews assembled a stellar cast, including baritone Laurence Tibbett and tenor Richard Crooks. Tibbett and Crooks both appeared frequently on the Metropolitan Opera stage, and performed popular ballads on the radio and in recordings.
The Trinity Choir, along with the soloists, crowded into the Victor recording studio in Camden, New Jersey in May of 1929. Andrews produced the sessions, and played the organ for the recording.
The project was one of the earliest complete recordings of Stainer's oratorio. It was released on six 78 rpm discs in a bound book. It was later reissued on 33 rpm LP, and still later on compact disc.
In gratitude for the successful recording, the RCA Recording Company presented Mark Andrews with a Seinway parlor grand piano.
The Andrews Steinway
The presentation piano was a Steinway Model A parlor grand piano (now known as a salon grand). The instrument has the touch and feel of a full-sized grand piano, though it takes up significantly less space. This made it a popular choice for schools and institutions -- and for Mark Andrews' home.
From New York to Orange
Mark Andrews, Jr. inherited the piano from his father. Mark, Jr. moved to Orange, Virginia and became a member of Orange Presbyterian Church. He, like his father, loved music and was a member of the OPC choir. When he moved to a smaller home, Mark Jr. donated the Steinway to the church.
Brought back to life
The piano had suffered from years of neglect. But the congregation decided it was an important instrument and worth restoring. After two years of fund-raising, the restoration work began. The Andrews Steinway (as it was now known), was officially dedicated on Saturday, November 17, 2007.
The instrument is in the front of the sanctuary, and is regularly used during worship.
- Ralph Graves
OPC Communications Team