Grand piano fundraising success


A magnificent grand piano has been installed in the lecture theatre at Chesterfield’s Library thanks to the fundraising efforts of pianist Andrew Marples.

Andrew, who is in great demand as a musical director and teacher in the county, co-founded Saturday Lunchtime Concerts at the library 30 years ago and reckons that since then about 450 performances of every style of music from classical recitals to jazz and folk have entertained audiences for free. 

All the concerts are run voluntarily and rely on audience donations. They have no funding although the county council doesn’t charge for the library.

“About 100 people come to the  16 concerts I organise each year  and the piano is used at about 80 per cent of them.

“It is the centre-piece of the concerts and I felt we could only continue if we had a new one so I set up a Just Giving crowdfunder to raise £9,000. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but thanks to the generosity of mainly local people and our supporters we have raised most of it very quickly.

“We have a little more to bring in yet, but we have been able to pay for most of it and get it installed for this year’s concerts, which is wonderful. “

The first piano recital on the new instrument was by Helen Farrar last month and the next will be by Hugh McCarron on February 15. 

Hugh, who grew up in Bolsover, is a recent graduate from the University of York. He has performed in Chesterfield several times at the library, The Crooked Spire and Elder Yard Chapel. His programme will include Chopin’s Scherzo no. 2 in B flat minor and his Masurka Op. 17 No. 4; plus the rarely heard Rhapsody in C major by the Hungarian pianist and composer Dohnányi.

Andrew will be playing on May 23 and then in a duet on June 20. He was born in Chesterfield, studied music at the University of Reading and won a post graduate scholarship to study piano accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

He teaches piano at St Anselm’s School at Bakewell as well as giving lessons privately and works with the Baslow Choir, the Holymoorside Choral Society and he is also part of Cantiamo.

For 20 years he was the conductor of the Chesterfield Co-operative Choral Society and this spring he is to step down as musical director of the Chesterfield Gilbert & Sullivan Society – a post he has held for 20 years.

“After that long I feel it is time to move on to do something new and to give the societies involved a chance to experience someone new. I don’t know what I am going to do next but I am looking out for a new challenge,” he said.

* Find details of the concerts in Chesterfield library or online at visitchesterfield.info.