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Alliant Energy Foundation to help bring historic grand piano back to life


$3,100 Grant to the History Center will be used to restore instrument once played by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other piano greats

If you put your ear close enough to this grand piano, you just may be able to hear an echo of Duke Ellington tapping the ivories, Fats Waller playing his jazz tunes, or Jerry Lee Lewis pounding the keys. There is a lot of history in an instrument that was used by every band booked into the Danceland Ballroom – a popular entertainment venue in downtown Cedar Rapids from 1920 until it was torn down in 1968. Soon, the wonderful music maker will be restored to its former glory and will be heard from again with the help of a $3,100 grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation.

“Restoring this beautiful instrument to its original condition will allow the History Center to celebrate the history of the piano and the role it played in our musical past,” said Jim White, Director of the Carl and Mary Koehler History Center. “Just as important, students will be able to use a grand piano that was played by many of the greats of the Big Band era, and be inspired to pursue their dreams. We will soon be hearing recitals and jazz concerts in the History Center.”

The History Center was given the 6-foot Krakauer grand piano in 2007 and began raising the $9,300 it would take to refurbish it. While still $1,000 short of its fundraising goal, the History Center is confident that individual donors and local musicians will continue to step up and ultimately fill that gap. It is estimated that the value of the piano will be around $30,000 after its restoration. Local jazz pianist Eddie Picard has already committed to giving a free concert on the grand piano when it is completely restored.

“We are excited to play a role in bringing music back to this classic instrument and in helping educate people of all ages on the history of the piano,” said Marty Fox, Executive Director of the Alliant Energy Foundation. “Having the restored grand piano in the History Center will certainly provide a unique venue for pianists to perform and for people to enjoy their music.”

If you wish to donate to the Danceland Grand Piano Restoration, or want more information on the Carl and Mary Koehler History Center, please contact Jim White at 319-362-1501.


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