Three pianos have just been added to the growing band of 51 pianos on campus.
Two seven-foot Yamaha grand pianos recently arrived, and the Department of Music is awaiting the pièce de résistance – a nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano destined for the Recital Hall.
The process of purchasing the pianos has taken more than a year. There was a three-month wait just to tryout possible instruments. When their turn came, piano studio professors Dr. Deanna Oye and Glen Montgomery headed for the Steinway factory in Queens, NY.
They toured the factory where almost 4,000 Steinway pianos are built by hand each year. Oye and Montgomery watched as a piano rim was constructed. Six men glued 19 layers of hardwood together and wrapped the resulting unit around a frame within the six-minute time frame before the glue dried. It takes between six months and a year to construct a single piano, depending on its size.
In the acoustically sound Selection Room, prospective buyers can play the new instruments. Oye and Montgomery had five nine-foot pianos and another five seven-foot grand pianos from which to select.
The faculty took turns playing and listening to each instrument. “Each piano has a different personality and sound,” says Oye. “How you want the piano to sound depends on the repertoire.”
After careful consideration, they agreed on one with a broad palate of colour, beautiful warmth and lovely singing quality. “It is a truly wonderful instrument. We can hardly wait for it to come,” says Oye.
The new Steinway will be well cared for because the U of L is in the unique and fortunate position of being the only university in Alberta with a full-time piano technician on staff.
Technical specialist Bruce Streibel joined the Department of Music in September and says the Steinway is a real investment. “Steinways appreciate in value and last a very long time,” he says. “They are still rebuilding original Steinways from the 1800s.”
Streibel takes care of all the pianos on campus, and students are already noticing the improvement in the maintenance level of the pianos.
“I love my job, and I am having the time of my life,” he says. “And I’m excited about having a new Steinway here soon.”
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