Middle Tennessee State University’s School of Music can’t fit all of their Steinway pianos on stage Tuesday, April 4, but celebrating their 20th anniversary as an “All-Steinway School” with a huge free concert will still be quite a night.
One of 200-plus “All-Steinway Schools” in the world, MTSU now boasts 60 of the renowned pianos for student, faculty and guest use in its performance spaces, teaching studios and music classrooms.
At 7:30 p.m. April 4 in Hinton Hall inside the Wright Music Building, 1439 Faulkinberry Drive, audiences will be able to enjoy the Steinway Anniversary Celebration Concert, a “piano extravaganza” of performances by MTSU students, faculty and alumni to showcase both their talent and the unmistakable tones of the Steinway.
“We’ve made a conscious effort for the music on this program to be attractive and appealing,” said piano professor Adam Clark. “I would say much of it is well-known music from the standard piano repertoire.
“We have Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and other works, many of which I think an audience will know or enjoy immediately. … We have piano duos; we have piano solos. We have works for six hands. And we may even have something for piano 16 hands. It is possible. We think it’s possible. We’re going to find out.”
A brief concert preview featuring Clark and his keyboard faculty colleagues, Eunbyol Ko and Arunesh Nadgir, is available below.
MTSU purchased 57 of the renowned piano makers’ grand and upright models in 2002 after several years of using “loaner” pianos from various manufacturers and about 21 university-owned acoustic pianos. The School of Music then became the first “All-Steinway School” in Tennessee, subsequently adding three more Steinways to its artistic arsenal.
The decision put MTSU alongside a company of esteemed music education institutions worldwide that includes The Juilliard School, Oberlin College Conservatory, Beijing’s China Conservatory of Music, the Yale School of Music and the University of Melbourne (Australia) Faculty of Music.
“When students practice on a Steinway, they are being prepared to play on the pianos they are most likely to encounter after they graduate,” Sally Coveleskie, director of institutional partnerships for Steinway & Sons, New York, said when MTSU announced its decision to join the “all-Steinway” ranks.
“It is important to note that Steinway & Sons produces less than 1 percent of all concert instruments being manufactured in the world today,” she said, “yet 98 percent of all pianists performing with orchestras choose the Steinway exclusively.”
From their first day of classes at MTSU, piano students are using the same instruments that artists from George Gershwin, Vladimir Horowitz and Cole Porter to Billy Joel, Jon Batiste, Diana Krall and Lang Lang have used, and are using, to create some of the world’s most celebrated music.
‘Really makes you stand out’
“When you think of the greatest pianos in the world, you think Steinway right away, so being an all-Steinway institution really makes you stand out in a field where there are many music schools throughout the country and many options for students,” the professor said. “When a prospective student sees that a school is an all-Steinway school, it speaks to the level and quality of the program right away.
“Then there’s the actual experience of being a student at an all-Steinway school; the Steinway pianos certainly follow through with their reputation. They’re outstanding in terms of their touch, their tone, their responsiveness, range of dynamics, and just how good it feels in the hands. It makes practicing a rewarding experience. It makes performing a rewarding experience. And of course, audiences enjoy that too, because they get to benefit from the sound that’s being produced by our students and our faculty.”
Clark said they often hear student reactions like “‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never played a piano like this before,’ or, ‘These pianos are amazing. These pianos sound great.’ ‘It feels so good to play these pianos.’
“Most have never had the chance to even touch a 9-foot Steinway grand piano,” he added, “but every week in studio class, these students have the opportunity to perform for their peers on a 9-foot concert grand Steinway piano.”
MTSU has been showcasing its “All-Steinway” status for the public for 20 years, establishing special concert series that draw internationally recognized artists to campus as well as creating workshops and competitions for area K-12 piano students. The tradition continues today with the School of Music’s popular Keyboard Artist Series, now in its sixth season.
The university’s piano studies program is currently serving 25 to 30 students with lessons. The greatest percentage are music majors, Clark said, alongside “a number of very active music minors and non-majors in piano.”
“Music minors and non-majors are a big part of what we do here,” said Clark. “We’re a very student-centered faculty, and we go to great lengths to make their education a rewarding and positive experience” with arranging guest artist visits, internships, observation trips to the Nashville Symphony or Nashville Opera, festivals and special instrument-focused days.
“There are so many events happening here,” he continued. “There is no shortage of opportunities for students to take part in. If you look at our concert calendar, there is something going on, there are many somethings going on every night of the week.”
For more information on MTSU’s Keyboard Artist Series, visit www.mtsu.edu/music/keyboardseries.php. For more information about MTSU’s School of Music programs and events, call 615-898-2493 or visit www.mtsumusic.com.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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