Cal-Poly Pomona’s All-Encompassing All-Steinway Campaign A Huge Success

As seen in the Winter 2016 edition of the Steinway Chronicle.


POMONA, CA –  When pianos touch the lives of so many students, as they do every day at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, their reach extends far beyond the walls of the music building.

“The Department of Music at Cal Poly Pomona impacts more than 30 percent of the student body. That's not unusual, but what really clicked was the importance of the music program to the natural sciences,” said Tim Stephenson, Western Institutional Sales Manager for Steinway & Sons. With a deep pool of math, chemistry and engineering students having musical interests, the $2.5 million campaign to make CPP an All-Steinway School quickly gained traction as an all-university initiative. The lead donation was made by two former chemical engineering majors, Perry and Paul Tollett.

Dr. Iris Levine, CPP's Music Department Chair

Michael Jung, ‘12, performs on one of the new Steinway pianos at Cal Poly Pomona

CPP’s journey started when Dr. Iris Levine, music department chair, attended the 2014 Keys to Finding Funds seminar sponsored by Steinway & Sons at Steinway Hall.  “The All-Steinway initiative was sparked by Iris's enthusiasm, determination, forward-thinking and magical ability to reach for the stars,” said Dr. Nadia Shpachenko, a Steinway Artist and Professor of Music.

Then, at a regional training session, Steinway Artist Greg Anderson explained the significance of having quality instruments – not only in developing the craft but for motivating students to achieve their greatest potential. Inadequate inventory can leave an indelible mark on prospects and their parents.  While entertaining offers for Fulbright scholarships, the Juilliard and Yale graduate would first visit practice rooms, weighing the condition of the pianos in his decision.

Later, about 80 select donors heard him team with Elizabeth Roe for an intimate performance at the Kellogg Mansion, former winter residence of late cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg, whose vast estate and horse ranch form the core of the CPP campus.

“For me, Steinway pianos represent freedom. Whether it is a beautiful singing melody in a Beethoven sonata or courageous and powerful chords in a Rachmaninoff concerto, Steinway pianos allow me to bring out these contrasting characters without any limitations.” – Michael Jung, ‘12

According to Mr. Stephenson, the campaign included an appeal to the Asian community that helped broaden CPP's donor base for future initiatives, including naming rights.  In April, a CTI News reporter from Taiwan was on hand for what morphed into an exceptionally fun-filled All-Steinway rally.  CPP First Lady Betty Ortiz greeted the arrival of nearly 30 new pianos by Steinway & Sons with mascots Billy and Betty Bronco, the pep band, dance and cheer teams.

In the midst of a multi-layered response to the All-Steinway effort stood the music students themselves.  Music major Prisilla Contreras Soto created “Students for Steinway" to help aid the cause.  “I want Cal Poly Pomona to be known not just for agriculture and engineering, but music, too,” she said.

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