(AMHERST, Mass., Feb. 21, 2022) – The Drake, the Downtown Amherst Foundation’s (DAF) soon-to-open arts and cultural venue, will be the permanent home of a Steinway & Sons piano, thanks to a gift from the Amherst College Department of Music. The department donated the instrument after the College made a $100,000 gift to The Drake project in January 2022.

Four people pose around a grand piano

Amy Gates, pianist and DAF board member (left); Darryl Harper, Associate Professor of Music; Director of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry; (front) ;  Gabrielle Gould (back), director of the Downtown Amherst Foundation; and Jeffers Englehardt, Professor of Music (right).

“This is a game-changer for the caliber of performers The Drake will be able to entice to play in Amherst and yet another incredible show of commitment from Amherst College to our downtown, to Amherst as a whole and to the arts and culture of the Valley,” said Gabrielle Gould, DAF executive director. “We are beyond thrilled and in awe of this instrument and what it will offer to our community over the years.”

“We thought it only fitting that, after the College made an investment in the venue itself, the department make its own investment in the music that will be made in The Drake,” said Darryl Harper, associate professor of music, chair of the music department and director of the College’s Center for Humanistic Inquiry, adding that his colleague Jeffers Englhardt, professor of music, had the idea for and coordinated the donation. “We can’t wait to see what performers take the stage at The Drake, and what beautiful music is created on a piano that has been played by many talented College students, faculty and other artists. We also can’t wait to see what kinds of partnerships and programs the College and The Drake will make happen.”

Steinway pianos are widely recognized as the best pianos made. The specific model the College is donating, the Steinway B, is considered the finest high-resolution piano in the world, and are generally used in mid-sized venues like The Drake, according to the Steinway & Sons website. The instrument will arrive after construction is complete this April.

The Downtown Amherst Foundation is in the final stages of fundraising for The Drake, Amherst’s first dedicated live performance and music venue. In addition to the music-loving supporters who have donated to The Drake’s Patronicity page, Amherst College, the Town of Amherst, and the State of Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Development have offered support to the project. The founders of The Drake, a not-for-profit arts and culture builder, hope it will serve a pivotal role in Amherst post-C19 Economic Recovery & Development, a destination driver that complements Amherst’s established businesses and supports its diversity on countless levels.