Kutztown University's All-Steinway “Triumph of Imagination”

As seen in the Spring 2017 edition of the Chronicle.

KUTZTOWN, PA. – Acknowledging 150 years of educational excellence in south- eastern Pennsylvania, Kutztown University celebrated 2016 with nothing less than a quixotic All-Steinway sequel.

“This long-awaited designation is a successful culmination of years of discussion, planning, and hope, representing a triumph of imagination at a time when many people might have called it an impossible dream,” says Dr. Maria Asteriadou, associate professor of music and a critically-acclaimed soloist and chamber musician. With some universities facing financial challenges in their music departments, “it took the vision of a few key people to make this dream into a reality.”

She cited former Music Department Chair Dr. Willis Rapp, current Chair Dr. Jeremy Justeson, Dr. Bill Mowder, Dean of the Visual and Performing Arts College, and President Kenneth S. Hawkinson for their indispensable roles in supporting the All-Steinway initiative: “I am filled with deep appreciation for the actions and guidance of these individuals, as well as the tremendous help from Jacobs Music in facilitating selection of the pianos.”

Celebrating Kutztown University‘s status as an All-Steinway School are, from left, Michael Scales, Kutztown University alumnus, Daniel M. Sponenburg, chief piano technician, Dr. Maria Asteriadou, associate professor of piano and chamber music, Anthony Rodriguez and Benjamin Skoronski, piano majors. Photo: Reading Eagle: Bill Uhrich.

During an All-Steinway ceremony in July, President Hawkinson stressed that the arts are capable of creating a strong sense of community with a multitude of audiences. “This All-Steinway status benefits everyone connected to Kutztown University. It especially affects our students,” he said. 

A recommendation to update inventory surfaced when the Music Department was accredited in 2003 by the National Association of Schools of Music, according to Dr. Justeson. “I’m very happy that we are joining the Steinway family. It really does show an investment in excellence and reflects on being the very best in everything we do. Our students will be able to practice and perform on the best instruments in the world,” he said.

“I’m very happy that we are joining the Steinway family. It really does show an investment in excellence and reflects on being the very best in everything we do.”

In 1866, just a year after Kutztown opened its doors as the Keystone State Normal School, Steinway & Sons captured a gold medal at the International Exposition of 1867 in Paris, which featured more than 150 piano manufacturers. Both institutions share a firm commitment to excellence that Dr. Asteriadou feels will provide a true inspiration not only to her but the next generation of pianists and teachers.

“The decision to become an All-Steinway school is an unparalleled investment of great importance since the Steinway piano represents the foundation of the high level of education students can expect to receive at Kutztown University,” she says. 

Regarding the benefits of having pianos by Steinway & Sons, Dr. Asteriadou observes that teaching is made more effective with a continuity of instruments in the studio, practice room, and performance hall. “Because the response of the pianos will be similar, the student is better able to understand and apply the concepts of tone, phrasing, and articulation after their lesson has ended. The learning curve is faster, and ideas tend to stick easier. This enhanced practice room experience has resulted in appreciable gains for many of our students, whose concert performances have been distinguished by improved clarity of articulation, richness of tone, a variety of color, and control of nuance and dynamics,” she notes.

“The decision to become an All-Steinway school is an unparalleled investment since the Steinway represents the foundation of the high level education students can receive at Kutztown.”

All-Steinway festivities commenced in April, with Jacobs Music bringing the “Living Legends Steinway Concert Grand” to Shaeffer Auditorium for a special performance. The iconic piano has toured with Steinway Artists Lang Lang, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman. 

The school took delivery of eight new uprights and baby grands in August, bringing the total inventory to 38 pianos. “It is exceptionally gratifying to take part in fulfilling this long-term vision,” says Bob Rinaldi, Senior Vice President of Jacobs Music. “Kutztown University never lost sight of the goal to provide its students with the best possible instruments and to consistently upgrade its pianos with Steinway products. The commitment and persistence of everyone involved to achieve this well-deserved designation is both admirable and inspiring.” 

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