Play Every Town

251 252 Community Concerts for a Cooler Climate


Concert Fourteen: 9/30/22 at Grace Episcopal Church

...donations benefited VPIRG Votes

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Black Creek running through Sheldon village

Grace Episcopal Church

Interior. The Erben organ is to the left of the altar

This fine granite specimen is in the adjacent backyard

Beth Crane got wind of our project and invited us to come to her church in Sheldon, our first concert in Franklin County. The church has a venerable history. Its organ was built for St. Paul’s Cathedral in Burlington by renowned NYC builder Henry Erben and moved here when St. Paul’s got a new instrument (thanks to Diane Gates for this info).

Nailed to the church door (taped actually)

Check out the Vermont-style mute on the bell clapper

The program

Beth Crane fills in Sheldon

An appreciative audience of about 50 welcomed us. I was fortunate to be joined by two wonderful Sheldon singers, Erin Grainger and Jennifer McConnell. Each of them invited the project to come to their own churches in Franklin and St. Albans, respectively. That was handy!

Scarlatti Sonata in G major, K.14, preceded by 14 ii-V-I’s (music starts at 1:05)

Jennifer McConnell sings “At The River” (arr. Copland)

Erin Grainger sings Paul Bowles’ “Heavenly Grass”

regaling the crowd

...about the piano

The Coops piano company was a small operation active in the first half of the 20th century, first in Massachusetts and later in Tacoma, then Pasadena. C.W. Coops was great-grandfather to Beth Crane (point person for this concert) and her brother Andy (sexton of Grace Episcopal Church). In 1978, the Crane siblings got a notion to track down one of their ancestor’s pianos for the church. Andy put a want ad in the Boston papers; a resident of Taunton, home of the original Coops factory, replied that he had recently reconditioned an old Coops upright. Andy and Beth drove a truck down and brought back serial no. 1246, manufactured in Taunton in 1902.

I had not encountered a Coops before. At 120 years, and about a half-century since its reconditioning, it was showing its age, but like so many large uprights of its era it had an underlying richness of sound, particularly in the bass register, that made it worthwhile to play. The worn hammers in the treble made for a tinkly, burbling sound that was evocative of early 19th-century pianos. I was pleasantly surprised how well it suited the Schubert sonata, particularly the last movement, which felt like it rolled off my fingers.

Apparently, Coops pianos are known for their sturdy construction and fine cabinet ornamentation, which is evident in the picture above.

The original factory in Taunton; CW is on the right, in the suit

Great-Grandpa Coops at the wheel. Coops photos courtesy of Andy Crane

Some of the keytops were loose

The at-hand adhesive in the church—it worked!

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last updated March 01, 2023