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Music department adds Steinway concert grand to collection

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Staff Pianist Dr. Lev Ryabinin tests out the new Steinway Model D now in Max Noah Recital Hall.

From choosing the ideal wood for the soundboards, rims and top, to perfecting the curve of the keys— the almost three-year-long process of creating a Steinway Model D is an act that considers every possible detail. That same attention to detail is what Dr. Sergio Ruiz, music department chair, took into account when choosing the concert grand to be housed in Max Noah Recital Hall.

“When you pick out the concert grand, you don’t want to take it straight out of the box,” said Ruiz. “Each piano has a very distinct personality, and so each piano is very different from the next. One might be mellow, another very bright and another may be completely overbearing. What we did was choose the right one for the hall.”

Dr. Kaju Lee, staff pianist, went with Ruiz on a trip to the Steinway & Sons Piano Factory in New York City during the fall 2014 semester. Starting out with a batch of nine pianos, Lee and Ruiz narrowed it down to two and spent hours poring over the details. According to Ruiz, it all came down to the differences in sound.

“It was the sound and the power of the instrument that persuaded us to choose this particular piano,” said Ruiz. “The clarity of the instrument and the evenness of sound from the lowest to highest note was just ideal for the space.”

The acquisition of the Model D 9-foot piano adds to the collection of Steinway instruments at Georgia College, an All-Steinway institution. The designation in 2011 brought with it a parameter that 90 percent of the university’s piano inventory consists of Steinways. According to Steinway & Sons Inc., all-Steinway Schools demonstrate a commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculty members with the best equipment possible for the study of music.  

For many in the department, getting the concert grand is a big step not only for the department, but for the college as well.Department of Music Chair Dr. Sergio Ruiz and Staff Pianist Dr. Kaju Lee toured the Steinway & Sons Factory in New York City in fall 2014 to find the ideal concert grand for the recital hall.

“It’s been a dream of many years to get this piano, and I didn’t believe it until recently that it was possible,” said Dr. Lev Ryabinin, staff pianist. “Artists from other universities will be much more excited about coming here and performing on this piano and really begin to take Georgia College into consideration.”

Both Ryabinin and Ruiz agree the concert grand also increases the caliber of students, faculty and visiting performers that are attracted to the university, as well as inspires current students.

“It rounds out our collection and gives us a jewel in our crown,” said Ruiz. “What this Steinway also does is provides a quality education to the students learning to play the instrument, as well as the artists that come through here for our guest artist series. “

Lee says this piano will fill the space of Max Noah Recital Hall unlike any instrument before, giving not only the pianist a first-class experience but also the audience.

“It has greater power and a wider rage of colors, which makes it ideal for any musical genre from classical to jazz, Baroque to Contemporary, solo, chamber to accompaniment functions, “ said Lee. “Its action is very responsive and delicate, so performers have full potential of their maximum expressions. It will satisfy both the performers and audience.”

The new piano will make its debut in a concert entitled “Simply Piano” Feb. 24, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. in Max Noah Recital Hall. For more information, visit music.gcsu.edu or contact the music department at 478-445-8289.

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