University of Central Oklahoma
Realizes an Incredible Musical Dream

EDMOND, OK – In college towns across America, building consensus on any subject can be a colossal task, unless it seems you are talking about Steinway & Sons. The University of Central Oklahoma and School of Music offer a stellar example, as the program inspired numerous donations to acquire a magnificent fleet of more than 50 Steinway & Sons pianos. UCO officially joined the ranks of All-Steinway Schools on August 8th, 2019.

UCO officially joined the ranks of All-Steinway Schools on August 8th, 2019.
An Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, Valery Kuleshov studied briefly with Steinway Immortal Vladimir Horowitz and has served as artist-in-residence since 1998. His awards include a gold medal at the Busconi and silver medal at the Cliburn competitions.

 “The All-Steinway initiative was a great way to connect potential donors with their passion for a permanent and lasting inventory for future generations of students,” says Dr. Brian Lamb, director of the School of Music. “Every student in the School of Music must use a piano and those pursuing other instruments give public recitals with accompanists and ensembles, so that was an appealing selling point for us.”

Support poured in from all corners to Edmond, a highly-regarded suburb of Oklahoma City with about 96,000 residents. Community groups including the Rotary Club, individual donors, external patrons, and every music faculty member contributed to the goal. A combination of small one-time gifts helped fund Steinway-designed Boston uprights while larger donations were used to put Steinway uprights and Model O grand pianos in studios and practice rooms. Exceptionally generous donors equipped every performance space with Model D concert grands, and all rehearsal rooms with either Model A or Model B grands.

From left, Artist-in-Residence Valery Kuleshov, Dr. Brian Lamb, director, School of Music, Dean Steven Hansen, Mike and Wanda Gilliam, Edmond Music, and Sally Coveleskie, representing
Steinway & Sons.
Founded in 1890, the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond offers nearly 120 undergraduate and 60 graduate degrees.
Students began the fall 2019 semester at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland with an added distinction of attending one of the nation’s newest All-Steinway Schools. 
A newly-renovated performing arts center transformed the existing 1960’s-era Queen Anne Fine Arts building into a state-of-the-art complex for music, theater, speech and mass communications. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Newman, Henry Adams Consulting Engineers)

UCO purchased a Steinway grand for the Mitchell Hall Theatre in 1999. Lamb says “that piano made such an impact that it prompted Dr. Karen Carter, associate dean and former music department chair to ask: ‘wouldn’t it be incredible if we could somehow become an All-Steinway School?’ ”

The university was not ready to begin a full-fledged campaign, but Mike Gilliam of Edmond Music canvassed the piano inventory and came up with a replacement schedule. A gift from Dollie and Troy Smith, founder of SONIC Drive-In, helped to replace some well-worn pianos as the All-Steinway idea gestated with each successive dean and music school director. “During the last five years, over half of our 53 pianos were replaced with new Steinway & Sons pianos,”

Dr. Lamb notes, acknowledging Mike and Wanda Gilliam’s dedication in making the school’s dream a reality.

“We could not have done this without Edmond Music and countless amazing donors who supported our efforts,” he says. “Because of their generosity, our students, faculty, and guest artists are practicing, rehearsing, and performing on the finest pianos in the world.”

Using the same instruments that are the overwhelming worldwide choice of concert pianists will help students meet the challenges of competing in a diversified musical universe. “As an All-Steinway School, we are in a strong position to recruit and retain excellent students and faculty,’’ Dr. Lamb adds. “When it comes to making and listening to music, the UCO community deserves nothing but the absolute best. We are giving them superb resources and exceptional experiences that we believe will surpass their expectations.”

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