‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ piano finds harmony at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
Many tunes were played on the special piano, and many more will be played in its future home.
The 1987 Steinway B piano was the instrument of choice for renowned jazz musician Johnny Costa on the set of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” inside WQED Multimedia studios in Oakland.
Unveiled Tuesday, it now sits on a new stage at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Thanks to the donation from WQED and nonprofit Fred Rogers Productions, the piano made its debut during a concert at the Guild, also known as MCG Jazz, from legendary trumpeter Herb Alpert and his band.
Paul Siefken, president and CEO of Fred Rogers Productions, said they were looking for a proper home for the piano.
Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild was fitting because Rogers and Costa were committed to the arts and education and “what better place to learn the piano than at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild?” he said.
“It will be played by jazz musicians today and in the future,” Siefken said. “It’s not a museum piece. It needs to be played.”
“It made perfect sense to be here,” said Marty Ashby, vice president and executive producer of MCG Jazz, with a mission to preserve, present and promote jazz. “Johnny had played for us. He and Fred would want it to be played. And there is such history in this piano. It fits MCG like a perfect suit.”
Singer and pianist Bill Cantos played the piano Tuesday along with Alpert and Alpert’s wife, Grammy award-winning vocalist Lani Hall. There is a second show Wednesday.
Darlene Blodgett of Gibsonia was one of the 350 guests at Tuesday’s sold-out show.
“Fred Rogers was a wonderful man,” she said. “And this is a wonderful gift.”
Costa played the piano from 1987 through 2000 in the WQED studio, where every episode of the beloved children’s television series was filmed.
The piano will be a vital part of the Guild’s jazz educational program in the future, officials said.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .