[Dixielandjazz] Ken & Pat Hanson - Extraordinary OKOM Fans

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 13 14:22:53 PST 2007

Neat story about Ken & Pat Hanson who are well known Dixieland fans on the
left coast and involved with OKOM and the Sacramento Youth Camp, as well as
with other Dixieland Jazz Camps.

Steve Barbone

To mark their 60th wedding anniversary, Ken and Pat Hanson are donating this
$79,000 Bosendorfer to Lower Columbia College. (picture snipped)

In the key of generosity
Tuesday, November 13, 2007-By Cathy Zimmerman - Columbia Daily News (WA USA)
Many people follow the tradition of calling a 60th wedding anniversary the
"Diamond Anniversary." Not Ken and Pat Hanson. The marital milestone they
will celebrate on Nov 15 is their Ebony and Ivory Anniversary.

Lifelong music lovers who met at Lower Columbia Junior College in 1946, the
Castle Rock couple are marking the date by donating a $79,000 Bosendorfer
piano to the new performing arts center at the institution known since 1961
as Lower Columbia College. The Bosendorfer concert grand will be one of only
three such pianos in the state, said Dr. Gary Nyberg, a music instructor at
LCC who directs the college's symphonic band.

"Anyone who has ever played would agree that it's the dream piano," Nyberg
said. The piano may be a surprise, but not the generosity of its donors.
For four decades, the Hansons have given to music locally and around the
Northwest, by funding scholarships, purchasing instruments and backing
Dixieland jazz camps.

Ken, who began playing piano at the age of 6, is the musician of the pair;
Pat is the enthusiastic soul mate. "Music brings happiness," she said.
"Always has, always will." Still, there's music -- and then there's music.
Bosendorfers, which are hand made with "old-world craftsmanship" at a
179-year-old family business in Vienna, Austria, are "surpassingly
beautiful," Nyberg said. "It's just so unusual for a community college
anywhere to have an instrument like this."

A Castle Rock native, Ken Hanson studied music for two years at Washington
State University before going off to serve in World War II. When he
returned, he enrolled in business classes at Longview's junior college.
He followed Pat into the cafeteria one day. "She looked pretty good from
behind, and when turned around, she looked even more beautiful."
"My sister made me go back to summer school," Pat said. "Without the
college, our paths never would have crossed."

He was 24, she was 19. They got married in 1947 at the Kelso Methodist
Church. The head of the college's music department, Ormal Tack, honored the
bride and groom with two songs: "I Love You Truly" and "Because."
The Hansons bought into a real estate agency in Kelso and soon after were
running it themselves. For 25 years, they sold property and insurance. And
they plunged into musical pursuits.

Aside from Ken's 70-year old Haddorff piano at home, the Hansons kept a
portable piano on their boat and in their RV. "Kenny has played at the yacht
club in Portland, and all over the world," his wife said. "If we went by
air, he took his ukulele."

The Hansons have been involved with young people and music for 40 years,
working with the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Camp and similar Dixieland
workshops for youth in Alaska, British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Washington
and Oregon. They never lost sight of their roots, however. Nyberg said the
couple has provided instruments for local students, and several years ago
purchased 11 new teaching pianos for the college. The Hansons, who have no
children, had already set aside a trust for LCC's Rose Center.

Pat said the idea for this additional gift came as their 60th anniversary
approached. Ten years ago, when they celebrated their 50th, Ken was
recovering from chemotherapy treatments for his colon cancer. They stayed at
the Benson Hotel in Portland, and had a wonderful time, she said. "This
time, Ken didn't want to travel any place, so we decided to celebrate at the
Benson" again. While they were talking it over, Ken said, "Maybe the new
building could use a new grand piano. We could do that for our anniversary."
They got in touch with Nyberg, with whom they've formed a deep bond. After
he located the Bosendorfer at a dealership in Las Vegas, the Hansons flew
him down to test it out.

Nyberg knew right away. To test a piano, he said, "I press each key very,
very slowly all the way through the range. It should have a little tick. Of
course, it does. "This piano action is made by Renner. It's the most envied
piano action." Nyberg played several pieces, "by Schubert, Chopin, Bach,
some Beethoven. The Chopin piece has big deep notes in it. A lot of pianos
fail on the low end," he said, but not the Bosendorfer.

That's because it has nine extra keys at bottom end, making a total of 97
instead of the usual 88. The extra keys are at "very low frequencies, at the
bottom end of human ear's ability to detect pitch. Several composers have
written for this special model -- Liszt, Busoni, Bela Bartok," he said.
The body of the piano is made of spruce, the company's Web site says,
"seasoned outdoors for up to five years, then seasoned for a further 12 to
15 weeks in the drying room.

"It takes over a full year to produce a grand piano, during which time the
wood is cut, planed, joined, glued, milled and sanded," the site says. "The
work also involves casting heavy iron frames, which are seasoned for six
months outdoors to eliminate tension."

The sale price of the instrument was $85,000, but when the dealer heard
about the Hansons' anniversary, she knocked the price down to $79,000,
Nyberg said. The bench cost $990, and shipping will cost extra.
The piano will be shipped from Las Vegas to a dealership in Portland, Nyberg
said, and when the Rose Center is ready, shipped to Longview.
Only a technician certified in Bosendorfers will be allowed to tune and
maintain it.

"If this instrument is kept up, it will last for 100 years," Nyberg said.
"It's really a beautiful legacy for them to leave." There are no plans so
far for how the college will debut the Bosendorfer, he said. Whatever the
event, Pat Hanson said, "it will be thrilling." She and Ken already seem
euphoric about the piano, which has struck a resounding note for their
anniversary. What else could have topped their improvisational legacy of

-"We're 85 and 81," Pat said. "We're not kids anymore. We feel so good to do
something while we're still alive."

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