By Frank Turano
On Sunday, June 14, it was standing room only at the Bethel A.M.E. Church on Christian Avenue in Setauket. The Three Village Historical Society sponsored a concert featuring an 1860 Robert Nunns piano built in Setauket. A Robert Nunns piano has probably not been heard in concert for more than 100 years.
The concert was developed by the Three Village Historical Society Rhodes Committee. This committee was also responsible for the construction of the exhibit, Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time, the community in which the piano was manufactured. Michael Costa of Costa Piano Shoppes has been working to restore the Nunns piano for more than six months.
The featured artist was Isabella Eredita-Johnson, a classically trained pianist living in Northport. Assisting Ms. Eredita-Johnson were Kayla Dempsey, cello and Lauren Murray, violin. The program featured classical music from the period of the piano’s manufacture. Sopranos Cheryl Savitt Spielman, Jessica Stolte Bender and Danielle Davis performed, as did mezzo soprano Lorraine Helvick and tenor Arthur Lai. The highlight of the concert was Ms. Eredita-Johnson playing Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” on the Nunns piano. A sprinkling of American classics from Stephen Foster were rendered by guitarist Bob Westcott and folk singer Maria Fairchild. The entire program was enhanced by visits from Clara Schumann, played by Carlotte Koons, and Robert Nunns, played by Bruce Teifer. The surprise of the day was the presence of Frederick Lorthioir of Connecticut, Robert Nunn’s great-great- great grandson. Since the restoration of the piano is not complete, funds will continue to be solicited to complete the restoration and it is anticipated that future concerts will make more complete use of this historic instrument.