Hailey’s story–a gift of music

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Gresham, Ore., teen receives community service award.

Hailey Rowden

Accomplished pianist Hailey Rowden, 14, began her musical journey at The Salvation Army’s Gresham, Ore., corps. Several years ago, then corps officer Major Brenda Hathorn began giving music lessons to children at the Gresham Corps. She taught piano to several students, and Hailey was her star pupil. When Hathorn reached the end of her own ability, she contacted famed local pianist Michael Allen Harrison on Hailey’s behalf. Harrison took her on as a scholarship student.

This year was the 10th anniversary of a benefit concert Harrison does to raise funds for his Snowman Foundation, which benefits The Salvation Army and other organizations. Ten grand pianos and 10 professional pianists sat on the stage of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts—the music was wonderful.

Harrison gave four groups the opportunity to say thanks for the financial support they had received. Then he said, “We are presenting an award tonight for the first time in our 10 years.” He described how he came to be Hailey Rowden’s teacher—the only one he teaches for free! Then he called her to the stage and presented her with the Snowman Foundation’s first Community Service Award, remarking that she now teaches 11 students herself at no cost to them.

Then came the piece de resistance: Harrison and Hailey had been working on an improvisation of Pachelbel’s “Canon.” They sat together center stage at the concert grand and began to play. As the pace and the volume increased, the nine other professional pianists joined in and created a moment to remember. The house erupted in a standing ovation.

The Sunday Oregonian featured Hailey on the front page above the fold—“A grand calling for gifted Gresham teen.” You can read the article online at: https://www.oregonlive.com/performance/index.ssf/2010/04/hailey_rowden_14_a_young_piani.html.

“I just love the piano—the feel of it,” says Hailey. “There’s no other instrument like it.”

Before finishing the story, you should know that Harrison continues to support the Gresham music program with gifts of pianos (the grand piano in the corps is his gift) and with his time. He performed a benefit in November 2009 at the Gresham Corps that raised over $10,000. He has also committed to this year’s benefit on November 2, 2010.

“We thank Major Brenda Hathorn for putting feet to her vision,” remarked Major Donald Hostetler, Cascade divisional commander. “We thank all the officers who make investments in the lives of people, even when the results don’t make the front page of the newspaper.”

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