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Free Recital by Thomas Pandolfi to Showcase First Baptist’s New Steinway Concert Grand Piano

By Christi Harlan*

In celebration of its newly acquired Steinway concert grand piano, the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC will host a free recital by pianist Thomas Pandolfi at 4 p.m., February 24, 2008, in the church sanctuary at 1328 16th Street, NW

Pandolfi, whose performances in Washington and around the world have been critically acclaimed, will perform selections by Chopin and Liszt and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The recital will be followed by a gala reception.

“Having this magnificent instrument calls for a community-wide celebration,” said Lawrence P. (Lon) Schreiber, organist and associate pastor of music at First Baptist. “With the recital by Thomas Pandolfi, I am pleased that we can make a cultural gift to the music lovers of the Washington area who have meant so much to me over the years.”

The purchase of the handcrafted Model D concert grand piano — at nine feet, the largest made by Steinway & Sons — fulfills a 21-year goal of the First Baptist Church. Schreiber and Pandolfi selected the piano at the Steinway factory in Queens, New York in November 2007, and it is signed by Henry Ziegler Steinway, the 92-year-old great-grandson of the founder of Steinway & Sons.

The Steinway made its debut at First Baptist in December at the annual Candlelight Carol concert — a program with community choirs that began in 1956 when the church opened its soaring, neo-Gothic sanctuary at 16th and O Streets.

“Since First Baptist was founded in 1802, we have had a tradition of welcoming our neighbors with fine music,” said Pastor James Somerville. “The Steinway, and the members who made it possible for us to acquire it, should demonstrate that we are committed to continuing to share the gift of music.”

Pandolfi earned his Bachelor and Masters degrees as a scholarship student at The Juilliard School. In May 2007, he recorded Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Paderewski’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 17, with The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra. In October 2008, Pandolfi is scheduled to perform Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini at the gala opening of the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts at Town Center in downtown Virginia Beach.

Schreiber was named associate pastor and organist at First Baptist in October 2000 after 40 years with National City Christian Church at Thomas Circle.

*Christi Harlan is a member of the First Baptist Church of Washington’s Chancel Choir and also of its Stewardship Committee.