The late Dr. Robert Hand's Schimmel grand piano will be auctioned off this weekend, to benefit the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Credit: Courtesy of Bangor Symphony Orchestra

One of Fletcher Hand’s countless fond memories of his father, the late Dr. Robert Hand, is accompanying him as he drove from Bangor to visit piano dealers in Boston and Portland, searching for a piano to buy.

His father, the former chief of medicine and of the ICU at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, was also a hobby pianist and an ardent supporter of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and its youth orchestra. As a lifelong lover of music, he wasn’t just looking for any old piano. He needed the perfect piano.

“Some people buy a new sports car, or a Mercedes. But my dad wanted a piano,” said Fletcher Hand, now 25 and living in Berkeley, California. “He had to play every single one before he made a decision. It was like a March Madness bracket, the process he used to finally decide which one to buy. It was very well thought out.”

The perfect piano ended up being a special edition Schimmel Grand Piano, made by the renowned German piano maker Schimmel. And for the next 17 years, Dr. Hand treasured the instrument, right up until his death in May 2020 at age 70, after a long battle with cancer.

Fletcher Hand and his mother, Penobscot and Piscataquis County District Attorney Marianne Lynch, and his younger brother, Caleb, knew they could never sell the piano. They could, however, use it to make a significant contribution to the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra, the organization that Hand and his family had supported for many years.

Robert Hand’s beloved piano is up for auction right now, as part of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s annual Symphony Soiree gala fundraiser, a virtual edition of which is set for Saturday. Bidding starts at $15,000, though the instrument is valued at approximately $40,000.

All proceeds from the sale will benefit the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra, an organization Hand helped revive about 10 years ago, and which he volunteered with for years, accompanying the orchestra on trips and attending every concert.

“We wanted to really highlight my father’s legacy of supporting young musicians,” Fletcher Hand said. “He got so much enjoyment from playing this piano, and he got so much enjoyment from supporting my brother and I when we were in the BSYO. He really felt that teaching a child to play an instrument and love music was a noble pursuit.”

Brain Hinrichs, executive director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, said the donation of the piano to the annual auction was the largest donation the auction had ever received, and would help to sustain the youth orchestra for years to come.

“Dr. Hand was a valued board member of the Bangor Symphony and a critical champion of bringing the BSYO program to new life almost 10 years ago,” Hinrichs said. “This donation will help sustain a leading music education program in our region, so future generations of young musicians can pursue their passion.”

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.