SEGUIN, TEXAS – About a half hour’s drive from San Antonio, Seguin could be considered a blip on the GPS by Texas standards, measuring a little more than 37 square miles with some 30,000 residents. So when voters approved funding for a multi-million dollar high school and performing arts center, most of the 1,900 student Matadors were bowled over.
Reagan Rodgers, a junior at Seguin, summed it up best when she told the San Antonio Express-News: “We’re a small town, so getting this state-of-the-art high school is absolutely amazing!”
Intent on creating quality citizens, great leaders and lifelong consumers of the arts, planners decided to make a huge statement to the rest of the state with a nine-foot Steinway Model D concert grand piano.
“The impact that this project has had on our music program is extraordinary,” said Mark V. Buley, Director of Fine Arts, referring to the new Seguin High School Performing Arts Center. “Our choir now rehearses in a much larger and more furnished space; the mariachi program has a place to call home and all our music groups can now fit on one stage, allowing for combined group performances. They can all be seen by the audience rather than performing from the wings.”
“The impact that this project has had on our music program is extraordinary.”
There was widespread encouragement on many levels. “By funding and attending our events, the Seguin ISD School Board and administration were key leaders in this effort. The entire community continues to support fine arts, such that the school district was confident in approving the purchase of the Steinway to make our PAC a destination venue for fine arts groups from across the region,” he said.
As for the piano, Buley noted that choirs are now accompanied by a quality instrument that enhances performances. The high school band prominently features the Steinway with selections like George Gershwin’s tour de force, Rhapsody in Blue, which they performed at Carnegie Hall in 2017. By adding the instrument preferred by most concertizing pianists around the world, the district also secured a partnership with the Texas Concert Opera Collective to bring concert opera to Seguin. What’s more, the school is hosting UIL (University Interscholastic League) competitions and invitational festival events for music and theatre groups. “This is only possible because of the new PAC and our Steinway Model D concert grand,” he said.
Equipping students with the best tools, the PAC contains avante-garde audio and video equipment to hone their technical theatre skills. According to Buley, the new rehearsal space serves to inspire students and faculty to do their best work, thus elevating rehearsals and performances. He said his greatest satisfaction comes from supporting the district by providing accessibility and a quality Fine Arts education to all students. “Our studies promote individual responsibility, teamwork, leadership and a deeper interest and appreciation of the Fine Arts,” he said. “The high school theatre department puts on a children’s show for all K-5 students in the district, as well as for neighboring communities and private charter schools. Our annual Arts Collage gives everyone a chance to display their talents and skills. It’s a district-wide event at the PAC that lasts more than three hours and is very well attended,” he said.
Deborah Moore, Institutional Director of the Steinway Piano Gallery in San Antonio and Austin, performed an inventory analysis and also provided information on other districts and regional colleges that had made a decision to purchase a Model D. “I could not have secured the purchase of this piano without her,” Buley said.