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Jorgensen raising funds for new Steinway concert grand

by Carol Davidge - February 4, 2008

Last fall, American pianist André Watts and Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra gave an outstanding performance of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.

There was also another star on the stage that evening – a Hamburg Steinway Model D Grand Piano that Watts brought with him.

“The Hamburg Steinway Grand Piano is a remarkable instrument, with the capacity to respond to every nuanced touch of a consummate artist like André Watts,” says Rodney Rock, director of Jorgensen.

“This performance, which will be remembered as one of the great nights of music at Jorgensen, left us with a taste of what is possible if we had our own exceptional Steinway concert grand.”

With that in mind, in December Jorgensen launched a fund-raising campaign for the purchase of a new Steinway Grand, 88 Keys to Success – Campaign for the Grand.

Close up of a Steinway piano keyboard.

Donors have an opportunity to purchase one of the new piano’s keys, in their own or a loved one’s name, with a $1,000 donation. To date, 37 keys have been purchased.

In preparation for the fund raiser, 10 members of the volunteer group the Jorgensen CoStars traveled to the Steinway factory in Long Island City, N.Y. With safety glasses in place, the group trudged up and down five flights of factory stairs to witness the building of a grand piano.

During the year-long process, pieces both massive and delicate come together through craft and technology until the instrument is complete.

It’s a process that includes bending the 24-foot rim, which consists of 17 layers of eastern rock maple, and fitting the Steinway diaphragmatic soundboard – the heart and soul of the piano, made of the finest acoustic quality spruce – to its own specific grand piano rim.

Trudy Nicholls, CoStars co-chair, says it’s important for UConn to provide students, faculty, staff, and the community access to the greatest musicians in the world.

Jorgensen director Rodney Rock, with Jorgensen Costars Janet Jones, Deborah Bellingham, Trudy Nicholls, and Patricia Hempel.
The 88 Keys to Success campaign for a new Steinway grand piano began with members of the volunteer group the Jorgensen CoStars visiting the Steinway factory in Long Island City. Shown here are, from left, Jorgensen director Rodney Rock, with Jorgensen Costars Janet Jones, Deborah Bellingham, Trudy Nicholls, and Patricia Hempel.
Photo supplied by Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts

“We will be able to attract even more legendary artists, once we can offer them one of the finest Steinway grand pianos in the northeast.

The 88 Keys to Success campaign is an opportunity for individuals, families and groups to create a living legacy that will continue to give back with every piano performance.”

CoStars co-chair Patricia Hempel adds, “This is the perfect chance for alumni of the University and supporters of the arts to thank parents, teachers, and loved ones who were instrumental in making their lives so much richer by encouraging their enjoyment and participation in the arts.”

David Woods, dean of the School of Fine Arts, says Jorgensen’s programming is key to its ability to fulfill its educational and outreach mission to the University and the citizens of the state.

“Jorgensen is the only major venue in Connecticut today that offers a broad-based, multi-disciplinary presenting series, including major national and international orchestras, chamber artists and ensembles, and classical instrumental and vocal soloists,” he says.

“A new Steinway will provide the best artistic performances possible. This is imperative, as more people across the state look to Jorgensen as their source for cultural entertainment.”

Pianist Menahem Pressler, who has performed around the world for more than five decades, will assist with the selection of the new piano.

Those who wish to contribute to the 88 Keys to Success campaign may contact Rock at 860-486-1983.

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