Than Just a New Piano—It's a Steinway
Though a Sunday, Nov. 13, concert
at Smith will feature nearly a dozen Smith faculty and local
pianists performing works by some of classical music’s most renowned composers,
the centerpiece of the program, the star of the show, and
the prominent presence on stage will not be human.
will focus on a new Steinway, nine-foot concert grand piano.
“I have been moved both playing
and listening to it, thinking about how it is the first Beethoven,
Brahms, Cage, Xenakis, etcetera, that the piano is hearing,
feeling, sounding,” said Judith Gordon, assistant professor
of music and a member of the team of Smith pianists who traveled
to the Steinway factory in Astoria, N.Y., to personally choose
the new acquisition. “Its first staccato notes, its
first massive chords, first singing lines.”
Such an instrument is worthy
of celebration because of the exquisite craftsmanship and
care with which each Steinway piano is produced.
pianos, Steinway instruments are produced one at a time,
and each one takes nearly an entire year to create. The wood
chosen for the piano is cured for months, and each Steinway
possesses its own idiosyncratic tone, action and character.
After 150 years in business, Steinway remains the consensus
finest piano in the world.
“Steinway is the sole place in this country where the pianos are actually made,” said
Gordon. “They each have a voice. When we ‘met’ this piano, it became our first
choice because it seemed to welcome a wide range of touches, postures. It seemed
to say ‘Yes’ to all of us.”
Thus, a celebration. The Nov.
13 New Steinway “Play-In,” which is free and open
to the public, invites pianists Gordon, visiting artist Conor
Hanick, Grant Moss, Jerry Noble and Monica Jakuc Leveret,
to perform on the new piano. They will be joined on the program
by pianists Alissa Leiser, Gary Steigerwalt and Gregory
Hayes, as well as students and others.
The concert, which begins at
4 p.m. in Sweeney Auditorium, Sage Hall, will feature works
by Johann Sebastian Bach, Claude Debussy, György Ligeti, Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart, and others.
new Steinway joins a fleet of about 50 pianos currently being
used in the music department, many of which are Steinways,
and the pianos located in every house
living room on campus.
For those performing on the
new piano—many touching it for the first time—it will be
a personal experience, said Gordon. “The newness and responsiveness,
the elasticity, of the piano is a thrill and a big question
mark. Like with a new person
or a new pet, the way we treat it, live with it, work with
it, is going to have so much to do with how it evolves.”
Those in the audience may also
notice the star instrument’s newness, she said. “It
will be wonderful if the audience notices and enjoys a sense
of discovery and delight in each performance.”