Dueling pianos duke it out for FLHS fund-raiser

COM_piano fund statusA new piano for the high school choir room is almost a certainty.

As of Jan. 16, the Forest Lake community had contributed $11,878 towards the $15,000 goal.

“The support from the community has been amazing, and we are very excited about how quickly they have responded to the need for a new piano,” said Forest Lake Area Music Boosters president Nancy Kramer.

The Yamaha C-3 piano, a like-new conservatory grand in polished ebony, is being held at the Music Connection in Forest Lake.

The piano boasts a good tone, excellent action, and the durability needed for school use, with heavy-duty hammers that can be played non-stop.

The C-3 sells for about $30,000 if new. When Music Connection owners offered to sell it to the school for $15,000 if they could get the money by Feb. 1, the fund-raising began.

Over Thanksgiving weekend the choir, band, and orchestra students sold coffee and cheesecake to their friends and families.

Then local businesses, parents and alumni “purchased” piano keys for $200 each.

Now the final push: a dueling piano event from 8 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, at Running Aces Harness Park.

Supporters will  pay $15 at the door for a musical show geared to audience participation.

Most of the songs will be requests from the audience, and the pianists will take turns responding.

The pianists will be Charlie Ollmann and Daina De Prez.

Charlie Ollmann
Charlie Ollmann

Ollmann, of Wyoming, is one of the owners of the Music Connection. A performer for more than 30 years, Ollmann has eight years of dueling piano experience. He is donating his services.

His opponent, De Prez, is a veteran piano dueler from Minneapolis who performs all over, from Iowa to the Bahamas. You may have seen her at Little Ditty’s in The Mall of America or at Double Ditty’s in Apple Valley.

The audience is encouraged to sing along, clap along and sometimes participate in on-stage toasts, special songs and comedy routines.  “No two shows are ever alike,” Ollmann said.

De Prez
De Prez

Song requests are often accompanied by cash tips for the players, but at this show, he added, all tips will go toward the piano purchase.

Because Running Aces is a casino, only adults 18 and older are invited to the show. (The content most likely will be suitable for all audiences.)

The space is being donated by Running Aces and the advertising by Gator Signs.

For ease of transport and to avoid tuning issues, the show will use digital pianos in grand piano shells, Ollmann said.

For more information, call 651-653-7599.

If you can’t join the sing-along at Running Aces but still want to contribute, send a tax-deductible donation to Forest Lake Area Music Boosters. P.O. Box 11, Forest Lake, MN 55025.