About the House
History of the House
Constructed before 1860, “The House” was for many years a grand home for Ann Arbor families living in what used to be the city’s light industrial and working-class neighborhood. In 1984, Carl Brauer, community leader and owner of Brauer Investments, Inc., purchased the house to provide parking for his award-winning office building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Catherine. He began renovations on the house, gutting its interior and placing an ad in the newspaper advertising rooms for
At the same time, founder and director Deanna Relyea, was looking for a teaching and masterclass space downtown. Finding Carl’s advertisement in the newspaper, she called him inquiring about the property. Carl showed Deanna the house on North Fourth Avenue in its gutted state. Upon seeing it, Deanna’s creative mind went to work imagining the possibilities. With the support of neighborhood businesses and residents, Deanna signed a 5-year lease on the building and founded the non-profit arts organization called Kerrytown Concert House.
Kerrytown Concert House opened its doors on September 28, 1984, with two benefit concerts featuring the Pulitzer-Prize winning composer and pianist, William Bolcom, and his wife Joan Morris, mezzo-soprano. Joining Joan and Bill were many of their illustrious friends including the late Percy Danforth, master of the bones; pianist/composer William Albright; oboist Harry Sargous; saxophonist Donald Sinta; and poet Alice Fulton. The concerts gave Kerrytown Concert House an auspicious beginning, putting the house on the map of the arts and it soon became an important part of the cultural fabric of Ann Arbor and Southeastern Michigan.
Now operating year-round, Kerrytown Concert House hosts and presents hundreds of performances of classical, jazz, cabaret, world music, and avant-garde happenings by both established national and international artists as well as emerging talent, many of whom live and work right here in our area. With the establishment of the Jazz at the Edge series and annual Edgefest creative music festival in 1997, KCH immediately established itself as one of the Midwest’s premier venues for the live presentation of world-class avant-garde jazz and creative improvised music.
History of the Piano
Kerrytown Concert House is fortunate to have a stunning model C Hamburg Steinway grand piano. The instrument became part of the House family in 1988. Having previously decorated the parlor of an affluent London woman who had traded it for a piano with a “shiny finish,” it was purchased from Steinway Hall in London. When the piano was 7 years old it made its way across the Atlantic to Ann Arbor to grace the Kerrytown Concert House stage.
This piano is known and prized by pianists and performers all over the country and in Europe. Recordings on the piano include Mr. B’s Sunday Best and the great stride pianist, Red Richard’s recording with Detroit’s saxophonist Charlie Gabriel. The recording went on to win the Hot Club of Paris Award.