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Piano dedication makes dream come true


TONAWANDA — A long sought-after dream became a reality at Cardinal O’Hara High School on Sept. 21 when the 1962 Baldwin 9-foot concert grand piano returned from two months of restoration work and was dedicated and blessed.

Father Charles Jagodzinski, OFM Conv., offers a special blessing as Cardinal O’Hara High School welcomed home their famed Baldwin piano on Sept. 21. The evening included a concert by pianist Ivan Docenko. (Photo courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

The spotlight was not only on the piano but also on the donors who made the extensive overhaul by Illos Piano Restorations possible.

Contributors included Carol Tallichet, Bruce Cullens, Rotary Club of Kenmore, Riverfront Custom Design, Michelle Kolacz and the Cardinal O’Hara Home School Association, Drs. Charles and Donna Matlock and the Journey of Hope Foundation.

Colin Sperrazza, director of music at Cardinal O’Hara, whose dream and hard work led to the restoration of the piano, welcomed guests to the dedication.

“This is a great moment for the music department and the whole school,” he said.

Principal Joleen Dimitroff welcomed the guests and noted that, “This piano is not merely a collection of keys and strings; it’s a vessel of emotion, a conduit for creativity, and a reservoir of memories. As we gather around this amazing piano today, let us reflect on the power of music to connect us, to stir our souls, and to communicate the inexpressible. This piano has a story to tell, and it will tell it through the hands of the many pianists who will grace its keys in the years to come. I encourage each of you to take a moment to appreciate not only the physical transformation of this piano but also the deeper transformation it represents. It reminds us that, like this piano, we too can undergo renewal, growth, and revitalization in our lives.”

Father Charles Jagodzinski, OFM Conv., who taught at Cardinal O’Hara for 13 years, offered a formal blessing of the Baldwin piano.

After the presentation of thank you gifts to the donors, staff members and those who contributed to the success of the project, Ivan Docenko, one of the best-known accompanists and versatile musicians in Western New York, played seven selections ranging from Frederic Chopin to Scott Joplin to Led Zeppelin.

“I selected the program to show off the quality of this piano,” Docenko said. “The 1962 Baldwin was the only piano Liberace ever played because of its orchestration ability,” he explained.

The Baldwin piano has a somewhat of a mysterious background at O’Hara as there is no record of how such a glorious instrument, built in 1962, the same year as the O’Hara auditorium, now called the Performing Arts Center, came to be at the school.

However, Dimitroff told the donors and all in attendance that “their belief in the power of music and their commitment to preserving this instrument’s legacy have allowed Cardinal O’Hara to continue its mission of bringing exceptional musical experiences to our school. Let the music play on!”

A wine and dessert reception followed in the foyer of the Performing Arts Center.


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