For years, a forgotten treasure has been hiding in a Hettinger Theatre storage room. After six years of sitting dormant, the Hettinger community grand piano is finally seeing the light of day.
This week, the Dakota Concert Association relocated the 6’1” conservatory grand piano to the Hettinger Lutheran Church in hopes that the instrument will be played once again.
According to Dakota Concert Association Board Member Kathleen Brackel, the grand piano will allow the Dakota Concert Association to attract performers who will only play exclusively on a concert grand piano.
Brackel said that there are many pianists, choirs, and performers who have skipped over Hettinger because, in years past, there hasn’t been an available grand piano.
“On the Dakota Concert board, that was one of our biggest issues. We had to pass up so many performers that were in our price range because we didn’t have a grand piano,” said Brackel.
Unbeknownst to the general public, there was a piano in the dark depths of the community theatre waiting to be used.
“I think people have forgotten about it,” continued Brackel.
Fourteen years ago, the Hettinger community banded together to fundraise money for a new concert piano. Through bake sales and various fundraisers, the Hettinger community gathered enough funds to purchase the $20,000 grand piano.
The piano itself was bought at cost from Dickinson. According to original piano salesmen Dale Jacobsen, the piano has a retail value of about $40,000.
When the piano was originally purchased, the community used it for small concerts and recitals. Due to showing movies, the piano couldn’t be used in the theatre on the weekends. According to Brackel, the concerts eventually outgrew the theatre and it was put into storage.
The piano sat in the theatre until it found its home in the Lutheran church. According to Brackel, the piano is so massive that the Lutheran church was the only place in town that could house the instrument.
Not only did the Dakota Concert Association have to find a home for the piano, but they also had to pay to move the piano and insure it. Still, Brackel said that getting the piano back in action was well worth it.
“Our director that helps us pick out the concerts said, ‘What are you guys doing? You have a piano here in Hettinger and you aren’t using it,’” she continued. “But we didn’t have a place to put it until Hettinger Lutheran agreed to have it.”
After years of sitting in the dark, the piano is in perfect condition and somehow still in tune. According to Brackel, the piano is still practically brand new.
“This piano, besides not being used for the last several years, was used hardly little even before that,” said Brackel.
Now that a place has been found for the piano, Brackel is excited to hear the keys played again.
“Artists love to play at the Hettinger Lutheran Church. The acoustics are amazing,” said Brackel.
The piano is going to be put back to use soon. Sons of Serendip will be the first performers to re-debut the piano at the Hettinger Lutheran Church on May 13th.