Courtesy Daesik Cha
Originally housed in the Fredericks' (very crowded) home, the Piano Collection was relocated in the fall of 2000 to the former Stevens Library building, 30 Main Street, Ashburnham, MA (GPS: 42.6359, -71.9083), where the instruments can be seen and heard to better advantage.
Renovated by Historical Piano Concerts, Inc., thanks to the financial and in-kind generosity of many supporters, this handsome, 1890 building is being leased to the organization by the Town of Ashburnham.
The Study Center can seat perhaps a dozen people for master classes, lecture-recitals, workshops, seminars, panel discussions and such. Space is limited due to the increased number of pianos in the building. The regular Concert Series, serving a larger audience, continues to be held at the acoustically superb Ashburnham Community Church, just up the street. Calling this a study center, rather than a museum, emphasizes the fact that this is a musicians' and music lovers' resource, illustrating the relationship of composers' works to aspects of sound and keyboard response typical of the pianos known to them. These are pianos to be heard, as well as seen.
The Study Center is open year-round to the public, for tours, by appointment or by chance.Tours are available to individuals and groups, small groups being preferable so everyone can see and hear well.A tour begins with the more familiar, late pianos and works back to the earliest examples, so the listener's ear can become accustomed to each generation of instruments, accepting it on its own terms. The Fredericks play appropriate musical selections on the various pianos, to demonstrate specific qualities available from each, also providing information on prominent builders and elements of piano construction, to help put the instruments in context. At the end of, or occasionally, during the tour, visiting pianists, (amateurs, professionals, or students,) may be invited to try playing specific instruments, to discover for themselves what musical effects are available, and how different keyboard actions respond to the touch.
A tour of the Piano Collection takes three hours, due to the number and variety of pianos on display, the need to introduce each type adequately, and the fact that visitors generally have many questions to be answered. The time passes very quickly, and those who have allowed too little time have regretted the decision.
It is a good idea to contact the Frederick Collection in advance of a visit, even when planning a tour on a day when it is open, to avoid having too many people drop in at one time. The Fredericks can be reached by phone at (978) 827-6232 or by email.
During cold winter weather, the Study Center is heated only to 50° F, to facilitate keeping the humidity at an optimum level for the instruments. Guests should dress warmly.
Courtesy Daesik Cha