Throughout the years, Weber State University has achieved many milestones. Tuesday evening marked another turning point for WSU as it received designation as an “
All-Steinway” school. The celebration for the designation required 150 fingers dancing across 88 keys.
The celebratory event highlighted 17 WSU music faculty, multiple piano students and five Steinway grand pianos. As part of the festivities, an official “All-Steinway School” plaque was presented to WSU from representatives from Steinway & Sons, New York.
“I’m glad I came,” said accounting major and WSU sophomore Holden Russell. “My friend kind of wrangled me in to coming. I had no idea that some people’s hands could move so fast.”
According to Arts and Humanities Dean Madonne Miner, much time and resources were meticulously spent in the pursuit of this designation.
“I’ve been employed by Weber State now for four years,” Miner said. “The quest to become an ‘All-Steinway’ school started about a decade ago when a couple donors requested the donations be used only for the purchase of a Steinway grand piano.”
The donors, the Stewart Education and B.W. Bastian Foundations, funded the purchase of a 9-foot and a 7-foot Steinway piano. Throughout the ensuing decade, these gifts ushered in a growing desire for WSU to rank among top universities throughout the nations that carry the name of “All-Steinway.”
“Another important individual is (student) Fan-Ya Lin,” Miner said. “After placing first at a national competition, her prize was to be a Steinway grand piano. However, because of economic situation at the time, the first prize was an upright Steinway.”
An upright Steinway piano is valued at $22,000-$23,000, while a Steinway grand’s value surpasses $80,000. Lin donated her upright Steinway to WSU and performed at two different fundraisers to obtain more Steinway pianos.
As more students won local, regional and national competitions, the Office of the Provost engaged in fundraising to obtain the designation.
“(Provost) Mike Vaughn has been good to us,” Miner said. “He seems to be a piano enthusiast himself . . . we were happy this could be mutually beneficial.”
Altogether, more than $1.1 million was raised so WSU could meet Steinway & Sons’ criteria to receive the designation. In order to be classified as an All-Steinway school, 90-95 percent of the university’s piano inventory had to be Steinway & Sons, which resulted in WSU’s collection of 41 Steinway and Boston (designed by Steinway) pianos. In this collection, WSU boasts three 9-foot Steinway concert grand pianos and nine 7-foot Steinway concert grand pianos.
“It’s rather interesting that as we are the 136th school to receive the ‘All-Steinway’ designation,” Miner said. “We had 136 major contributors to make it possible to achieve that designation.”
Steinway pianos, which are handcrafted, usually take around a year to be manufactured. In some cases, the making of a single piano can take up to four years.
“Their sound quality cannot be matched,” Miner said. “Their tone is rich. It is time that we have proper equipment that is worthy of our talented staff and students.”
Miner said reaching this level will enhance the collegiate experience of every student attending WSU.
“This only improves our performing arts program as a whole,” said Miner, who has a doctorate degree in English. “In fact, this puts Weber State on a whole new level, and every student will feel its impact.”