Steinway Model D Concert Grand Arrives in Algona, minus 76 trombones

As a classically-trained pianist, Barbara Haggard dreamed of enhancing the quality of musical performances in her beloved hometown of Algona. Now, one could only imagine what she might say as the tight-knit northern Iowa community embraces the instrument of the immortals.

With news that the Wilcox Performing Arts Center would open its doors at Algona High School – creating a viable venue for world-class concerts – there was no better way to honor Ms. Haggard’s legacy than with a Steinway Model D concert grand piano.

“The discussion was brief. The decision was a no-brainer,” says Judy Thoreson, president of the Haggard-Twogood Charitable Trust and cousin to Barbara and her sister, Eleanor Twogood. “I’m sure Barb and Eleanor would be thrilled with this acquisition. In fact, Barbara might have been overwhelmed!”

Barbara earned a degree in music education from Northwestern University and was elected as the first woman to the Algona City Council. With her dream, musical possibilities are endless, according to Trustee Paul Wigley, a former choral director at the high school.

“The arrival of a Steinway in Algona will have much greater impact than the Wells Fargo Wagon ever did in River City,”

he says, referencing a pivotal scene from a classic Broadway musical, The Music Man, when a wagon filled with shiny new band instruments arrives in a fictitious Iowa town.

“Excitement right now is palpable as Algona will soon celebrate music making that will be second to none in the region. Artists will be inspired more deeply, simply by knowing they have the opportunity to create expressive music on a piano that provides depth of color and richness that they rarely are able to achieve,” Wigley predicts.

He was one of three trustees who traveled to New York with Kirk Davis, piano division director at West Music Company in Coralville, to painstakingly select one of five candidates.  “The minute we arrived in the reception area at Steinway & Sons, we realized we were in for a once-of-a-lifetime, magical experience,” recalls Trustee Kristie Brown.

The factory tour “simply reinforced what we all knew – Steinway is, and always will be, the gold standard for piano manufacturing,” Wigley says. “To see every step in the handcrafted process where virtually everything is done by incredibly skilled artisans was something I’ll never forget.”

Moving to the task at hand, “we came into this wondering whether we really could discriminate between these fine instruments. Each one was superb,” observes Trustee Scott Buchanan. “Surprisingly, we quickly realized that there were notable differences  –  not so much in terms of good or bad – but differences that either appealed to our tastes or not. One was brighter, another more resonating and one more subdued than the others. But after a little more than three hours, Number 4 stood out as our favorite. We believed the sound was ample for the space and suitable for pianists of a variety of skill levels and talents.”

Brown adds that “Kirk did a wonderful job of playing for us so we could stand back and listen. The final decision was unanimous.”

No grander tribute to fulfill Barbara’s vision for Algona.

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