Hope College received a gift for a new Steinway Model D piano for our new Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, and I had the privilege of traveling to the Steinway Factory in New York this week to choose the instrument that would be just right for the new concert hall. After a fascinating and inspiring tour of the factory, I -- along with my colleague, Hope College Professor Emeritus, Joan Conway -- tested five instruments identified by Steinway as the most promising prospects for our 800-seat concert space.
As each piano is meticulously crafted by hand, every Steinway will possess a different voice and a different personality. No two Steinways are alike. Therefore, the selection process is crucial to finding the right instrument for our unique concert hall: I had come prepared with a wide range of repertoire that would quickly test the various elements of a fine performing instrument. The process was a challenging one because all five candidates were magnificent, and we had only a few hours to choose the right one. In the time we had, I strove to identify the subtleties of each instrument's character: Will it communicate the colors of my emotions? Will it whisper quietly when called to do so? Will it effortlessly project to the last row of the hall when it needs to? Will it make the hairs on the back of my audiences necks stand on end? By the end of the day, and after many hours of playing these magnificent instruments, the final candidate became clear. I'm elated that Hope College will be bringing home Steinway Model D #599967. It is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent instruments on this planet. Hope's newest piano possesses the power of the New York Philharmonic, sings like Callas, dances like Balanchine, and effortlessly spans the entire spectrum of visible and invisible colors. The selection and acquisition of this piano is an immense privilege for both Hope College and the entire West Michigan community!
The following sign was posted outside the floor where Steinway produces its keyboard action parts, due to the secret, proprietary nature of its design. I abided by the posting, of course, and refrained from taking photographs there. :)