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New KCCA grand piano is a 'little sweetie'

New piano is dedicated at Aug. 8 Monday Musical performance
by: Barbara Sherman SWEET, SWEET MUSIC – Following the Aug. 8 Monday Musical performance in the King City Clubhouse, family members of Robert and Rose Robinson, who bequeathed money to the KCCA Memorial Fund to purchase the piano, stand behind it; from left are their son Michael Richard Layman, their daughter Kathy Pixley and Wendy Pangburn, who is the girlfriend of grandson Michael Robert Layman.

The first person to officially tinkle the ivories on the new King City Civic Association grand piano was professional pianist Janet Coleman, who performed at the Clubhouse on Aug. 8 with her sister, violinist Julie Coleman, for the monthly Monday Musical.

"We are happy to have the distinction of being the first to play on the new piano," Julie told the audience.

After playing a tricky piece accompanying Julie on the violin, pianist Janet pronounced, "This little sweetie was just a dream."

At a ceremony prior to the performance, Billie Reynolds, who is on the KCCA Memorial Fund Committee, and KCCA Administrator J. Pat Moore dedicated the piano and thanked the family of Robert and Rose Robinson, who left the fund a bequest that paid for the piano.

Attending the event were members of the Robinsons' family - their daughter Kathy Pixley, a King City resident, their son Michael Richard Layman, their grandson Michael Robert Layman and his girlfriend Wendy Pangburn.

"The Memorial Committee wishes to dedicate this Young-Chang piano, and we hope it brings a lot of happy memories for all of us," Reynolds said.

Actually, the story of how the piano got to the Clubhouse is memorable in its own right.

"Several years ago Robert was the president of the King City Memorial Fund Committee and had the gracious desire to leave something from his estate, which he did with a nice gift," Reynolds said. "For almost a year the current Memorial Fund Committee members have been shopping for a grand piano for the club room, where concerts and musicals are presented, leaving the current piano in the parlor for active use also."

The committee looked at baby grands, but none had the tone and rich sound desired, according to Reynolds.

"Other upright pianos were also looked at until word came that New Hope Church in northeast Portland was going all-electronic and had a grand piano to sell," Reynolds said. "Richard Probasco, the minister, has for several years been part of the Portland Christmas celebrations, and this was his personal piano. The committee recruited Chuck Magnuson, a very gifted pianist, to come give the piano a workout and determine if there were problems or flaws.

"Chuck sat down and played classical music, hymns, jazz, popular tunes and boogie-woogie and was fingering all over the place. He used the pedals fully and gave the piano a workout. He was smiling from ear to ear as he had sold Young-Chang grand pianos when he worked for a music store."

Reynolds explained that knowing the piano would need to be moved from time to time, the carriage was crucial, and Magnuson gave his full approval after which Probasco and the committee were able to agree on a price.

"Next was the move by Big Al," Reynolds said. "The piano arrived and was set up by Big Al and crew. The tuner was called and did his job, and a cover was ordered."

The piano is locked, and to play it, people must obtain the key from the KCCA receptionist and replace it when finished or place it in the slot in the door.

One group allowed to use the piano is the King City Music Club, which meets every Monday afternoon in the Clubhouse.

"Their pianist loves the piano, and its tone and touch," Reynolds said. "The committee is grateful to the Robinsons for this gift, which enriches the living experiences of King City residents and their guests."