In 1993, Baylor wanted to purchase a piano. The idea was inspired by the Council for the Visual and Performing Arts’ tradition of providing entertaining cultural presentations in a number of institutions throughout the Texas Medical Center. Piano concerts, however, were limited to the availability of a single concert-quality instrument located on the fifth floor of the UT Medical School.
It seemed that the Baylor community would enjoy and benefit from having a piano in the College. Some members of the Baylor family were talented musicians, but could not practice at the College where they spent most of their time. On an occasion, students had rented a piano and given a recital, and its video recording had been used as a recruiting tool. Motivated by bringing ‘good music in the halls’ that would enrich Baylor’s cultural atmosphere, Baylor Women’s Faculty Club took the initiative to buy a piano.
Baylor Women’s Faculty Club
The Women’s Faculty Club was a social and philanthropic organization founded in 1948 for the wives of Baylor faculty members and for women faculty members. It was formed with three purposes: to provide contributions to the College, to provide members and their families with educational and entertaining programs and to host occasional social functions for members, their families and Baylor’s community at-large. The Faculty Club merged with Partnership for BCM back in 2005.
To purchase a piano, the Faculty Club created a Piano Acquisition Committee. Led by Peggy Rakel, the committee embarked on a fundraising campaign to purchase a high-quality piano; a Boston 5’10” made by Steinway, the same model used by Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. It cost $14,000.
Raising the money
The plan was to fundraise about half the cost of the piano with contributions from Baylor donors that were requested through letters highlighting the value this special instrument would add to Baylor community. To raise the other half, the committee planned an Oktoberfest for November 1993, during which they would raffle a handmade quilt made by members of the Faculty Club and their friends, and conduct a silent auction of donated items. The hoped to sell the quilt for $5,000.
The Committee succeeded on their efforts to raise funds to purchase the piano and early in 1994 a Boston 5’10” grand piano featuring its classic cabinet style with ebony high polish and lacquered solid brass hardware entered Main Baylor and took residence in Razor Lounge where it can be seen today.
Noontime concerts performed by musicians in the community or by Baylor members took place for Baylor faculty, staff and students. This tradition has disappeared, except for the occasional Baylor student or staff member who relaxes and enjoys playing in the evenings ‘good music in the halls,’ just as Peggy Rakel and the Piano Committee members had hoped.
-By Ana Rodriguez
Photos and information courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine archives.