Blackburn’s new piano playing for keeps

Blackburn’s new piano playing for keeps

Dr. Pei-I WangBy Rick Wade
A group of workmen rolled the large, heavy piano onto the stage in Blackburn College’s Bothwell Conservatory of Music, where a small crowd gathered Aug. 13 to welcome the musical instrument to its new home.

Methodically, the piano movers removed packing blankets, put all the pieces together, then set the piano upright.

Black, sleek and shiny, the three-legged piano towered above the audience like a colossus with its lid propped up on the elevated stage.

This particular piano is composed of 12,000 individual parts, is nearly nine-feet long and weighs 990 pounds. Each Steinway Grand takes one year to build.

From their vantage point, the audience below could read a few small words on the side and front of the piano: “Steinway & Sons.” Above the words was an image of the iconic Greek lyre that’s come to represent Steinway excellence over the past 160 years.

Barely visible are the shiny black and stark white keys that would a bit later transform the piano into far more than an accumulation of wood and wire.

Dr. Pei-I Wang plays Blackburn College's new Steinway Grand piano.

Dr. Pei-I Wang plays Blackburn College’s new Steinway Grand piano.

Elite group
But first, a few words were in order.

“I want to thank you all for all of this … this is such a gift to the school, to the kids, to the faculty. For generations, this piano is going to be here in this auditorium,” said Susan Lutz, a representative of Steinway & Sons,  located in New York City. “This is a nine-foot concert grand piano, handmade in New York City, by Americans. You should be proud of this.”

Lutz, who lives in Springfield, assists schools like Blackburn College transition into an “All-Steinway School.”

Lutz said there are only 150 colleges and universities in the world who have achieved All-Steinway School status. “Congratulations. You are a very elite group. I promise many things will happen to the school because of this. And it’s all going to be good.”

According to Elizabeth Zobel, Blackburn’s performing arts department chair and professor of music, Steinway delivered pianos all to be housed in Blackburn’s Bothwell Conservatory, including six new Boston and Essex upright pianos for practice rooms, a classroom and an adjunct office and a 2009 Boston grand piano for the choir room, besides the Steinway Model D nine-foot concert grand for the Bothwell stage.

To read more of this story, see our e-edition.

Dr. Pei-I Wang plays “Pomp and Circumstance” on Blackburn’s new
Steinway Grand piano at the college’s convocation ceremony, Aug. 21, 2013.