$38,000 cello a dying gift to Austin High School musicians

After nearly 6 months of repairs and long hours in the shop, a 19th century cello will make its debut with the Austin High School orchestra. It's worth $38,000 and students get the chance to play it all because of a special teacher who left it as her final gift to the district.

For the past few years, the cello sat collecting dust in the school's music department. Gene Schott, the new orchestra director, convinced the school to raise almost $6,000 for repairs and brought the cello to Givens Violins, a repair shop on Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. Somehow, after nearly half a year of meticulous restoration, the master craftsmen brought the instrument back to life, and 17-year-old Abby Sencio gets to play it.

Beloved high school music teacher, Jean Miller, who taught music for 29 years in the district, donated the instrument to Austin High School before she died. She had no children of her own, and the cello could have been traveling around the country to be played by professionals, but instead, it will serve to celebrate art in the farming community for years to come.

The cello will make its orchestral debut on Thursday during the final concert of the year at Austin High School. It is open to the public.

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