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The Legacy of Frances Jennings

The 1913 Bechstein concert grand we at Classical Pianists of the Future use is the result of a gift made possible through the estate of Frances Marie Jennings, a Candor native who graduated from Cornell University in 1925. She appeared as a quiet, retired Latin Teacher, (Garden City, NY) and classical arts lover. When she taught at Garden City, she lived in New York City, and witnessed many of the most famous artists in the 1940′s-60′s.

She moved to Binghamton to be with her sister, Jane Jennings, (Broome County librarian) until they could retire together to Florida. A stroke prevented Jane from leaving – so Frances became very involved taking care of her, volunteering for office work with the Tri-Cities Opera, Binghamton Symphony/Philharmonic and the Cancer Society.

Her close friend, Paul Stapel, was entrusted with some of her estate. Mr. Stapel thought the very modest lady needed a special recognition and found, with the assistance of Lance G. Hill, and with his approval, the Bechstein, for sale in Atlanta, Georgia.

The instrument was much too magnificent to keep at his home, so Mr. Stapel found a supportive partner in the Tri-Cities Opera who accepted taking care of the piano in exchange for its use as a performance (only) instrument. The staff built a ‘garage’ for it and Mr. Hill, a most excellent piano tuner and technician, gives the incredible servicing it must have to keep it’s exceptional sound and mechanical facility.

This fine instrument is available for use, without charge, to any professional pianist or group sponsoring the same. If it needs to be used in some other location, charges for moving, and insurance ($200,000) must be assumed by the user. The Tri-Cities Opera is accommodating in scheduling its use.

Mr. Stapel is seeking a donor to become the instrument’s owner, with the hope that it would remain in it’s present location as part of the transfer agreement. Mr. Stapel may be reached at 607-773-1495.