Will Farmer, a senior music major at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise sat in front of a brand new Steinway & Sons piano Wednesday. The piano major and Hillsville, Virginia native, of course, did not pass up an opportunity to play.
“It has a really good sound,” he said. “It feels good and it is a great instrument.”
Farmer had played on a Steinway once at a festival in Radford, Virginia, but playing a tune on a straight-from-the-factory Steinway product was a day he will treasure.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “As a piano major, this is a great opportunity for me. “Steinway is a fantastic instrument. It is a big advantage for students to learn on a Steinway.”
The piano Farmer played is one of six Steinway products delivered to the music department as part of a multi-year All Steinway School campaign UVa-Wise officially started. Fewer than 200 colleges, universities, and conservatory schools have been designated as an All Steinway School, and only a handful of those are Virginia schools. UVa-Wise hopes to receive that designation after the three-year campaign. Private charitable gifts funded the purchase of six Steinway products, and the campaign to raise enough funds to purchase more to replace aging pianos on campus will continue.
“We are excited to start the All Steinway School campaign,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “We want our music students and our music faculty to have the best instruments possible, and Steinway pianos simply are the best.”
Peter Ryan, assistant professor of music, waited patiently for the delivery truck to arrive from Roanoke. Ryan and his wife, Assistant Professor Hannah Ryan, traveled to New York earlier in the summer to pick out the pianos from the Steinway & Sons factory.
The shipment of six pianos arrived around mid morning and a crew of professional piano movers swarmed the truck and prepared for a long day of work. The movers first had to relocate some of the College’s well-played pianos to make room for the Steinway and Boston instruments. The new pianos included two grands and four uprights. UVa-Wise could have 12 Steinway products by the end of the campaign.
“This will put us in a better place to compete with other colleges for music students,” Ryan said. “It will help us with recruiting when students learn they will have access to the world’s finest pianos”
The instruments will be used for student performances, ensembles, and any performance that requires a piano.
Steinway is also providing $16,000 in student scholarships over the span of three years. The scholarships are designated for music majors.
“We are incredibly grateful for the private gifts that have made this endeavor possible,” said Bob Bragg, vice chancellor for development and college relations. “We continue to seek financial support to fully fund this project.”