600+ Music Teachers Visit the Steinway Factory as Part of the 2012 MTNA Conference

More than 2,000 music teachers recently visited one of the world’s most desirable classrooms – New York City – for five phenomenal days that featured a full slate of festivities involving Steinway & Sons.

Founded in 1876, the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) represents approximately 22,000 members, providing support through networking, financial assistance and continuing education initiatives aimed at advancing the teaching profession.

This year’s national conference on March 24-28 marked MTNA’s first visit to the Big Apple in twenty-five years and was one of the most popular meetings in the group’s storied history.

The rim bending team hard at work getting 17 laminates (layers) of glued hard rock maple into the rim press to form the rim of a Steinway & Sons Model D concert grand piano.

The most eagerly anticipated event was a tour of the famous Steinway factory located in Astoria, Queens. More than 600 teachers participated in the tour, riding round trip buses provided by Steinway & Sons from the Hilton New York in midtown Manhattan. Many visitors witnessing the handcrafted procedures were proud Steinway owners themselves and teach regularly on Steinway pianos.

Gail Berenson, MTNA Past President said, “What an incredible experience it was to take the tour. I found it to be absolutely fascinating. Thank you to Steinway & Sons for making this unique experience available to us.”

MTNA’s international influence was evident as instructors from China, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom joined their American counterparts on the 90-minute tour, where they observed the rim-bending process, the belly department, case making and action departments. Each tour was conducted by a head of Steinway’s manufacturing team, each one an expert in their field.

The team in the rim bending department bends the rim of a Model D concert grand piano in front of the tour attendees from the MTNA conference.

“We were delighted to welcome this wonderful organization to our hometown and provide an opportunity for teachers from around the globe to come and learn more about our world-renowned instruments,” said Ron Losby, President, Steinway & Sons - Americas.

Opening ceremonies of the conference featured Steinway Artists Stecher and Horowitz, while later in the week internationally-celebrated soloist, chamber musician and teacher Menahem Pressler presented a master class using two Steinway Model D grand pianos.

A reception for New York City teachers at Steinway Hall offered a presentation by Franz Mohr, former chief concert technician of Steinway & Sons who also served as personal piano technician to Vladimir Horowitz. The “Horowitz Steinway” piano that accompanied Mr. Horowitz on his legendary return to Moscow was on display at Steinway Hall and available for MTNA members to play during the week.

Texas Christian University, an All-Steinway School, also hosted a special gathering at Steinway Hall following a recital at Carnegie Hall by TCU faculty members Jesus Castro-Balbi, cellist, and Gloria Lin, pianist. Dr. Richard Gipson, Director of the TCU School of Music, Dr. Ann Gipson, Past President of MTNA and Steinway Artists Jose Feghali and Harold Martine were on hand to welcome TCU alums and arts patrons.

Yi-Yang Chen, 2012 MTNA Young Piano Competition winnner. Photo (c) 2012 Harry Butler.
Copyright 2012, Harry Butler.

Meanwhile, at the Conference Gala, Mr. Losby and Sally Coveleskie, National Director of Institutional Sales, were recognized for Steinway’s ongoing support of MTNA’s Young Artist Piano Competition. Steinway has sponsored the competition for 13 years, and offered the first prize of a Steinway Model 1098 upright piano, valued at $24,000, to this year’s winner, Mr. Yi-Yang Chen. Mr. Chen is a student of Dr. Douglas Humphreys at the Eastman School of Music.

Sante Auriti carves the case of a Steinway & Sons Louis XV piano as attendees of the 2012 MTNA Conference look on.

Conference attendees also got a chance to see some rare, behind-the-scenes craftsmanship at the Steinway display in the Hilton’s exhibit hall. Mr. Santé Auriti, a native of Abruzzi, Italy, has spent the last 20 years working on every Louis XV Steinway piano that has been produced, and enthralled spectators with hand carving demonstrations of the instrument’s intricate case design. The Steinway exhibition also included a large banner listing the current roster of more than 135 All-Steinway Schools.

“Accomplished music teachers are at the core of everything Steinway & Sons stands for,” said Ms. Coveleskie. “What a privilege it was to share some of our time-honored traditions and offer them the experience of witnessing the hand crafted process of building our instruments.”

Finally, Steinway Artist Christopher O’Reilly, host of From the Top on NPR, was on hand to record the conference’s last performance at Carnegie Hall for a future radio program. Prior to the recording, a reception was held to honor the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program, which is designed to inspire excellence through individual assessment, and allows students to celebrate accomplishment and track their progress with others across the country. Speakers at the event included Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, Dr. Peter Simon, President of the Royal Conservatory and Dr. Gary Ingle, Executive Director and CEO of the Music Teachers National Association.