Just how big is Texas?
Stretching more than 268,500 square miles, the Lone Star State could fit two Californias, four Floridas, or a mind-boggling 221 Rhode Islands, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Fueled by an energy-driven economy, a legislature favorable to funding the fine arts, and a steadfast private-sector commitment to philanthropy, Texas has a gigantic heart for Steinway pianos.
That historic affinity usually evokes one name – Van Cliburn. In 1958, the 23-year-old virtuoso went to Moscow, stunning the world by winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Four years later, the inaugural Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was born, and the quadrennial event continues to attract some of the world’s finest pianists to Fort Worth.
From left: Dr. Robert Hansen, at left, and Bryan Elmore exemplify the strong institutional partnerships that have made Texas synonymous with Steinway & Sons pianos; Dr. Richard Fountain, professor of piano, gives a lesson from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, where rural students are becoming more receptive to remote learning through the Spirio| r experience.; Deborah Moore
From the northwest corner of the panhandle to the banks of Rio Grande at Brownsville, more than 170 colleges, universities, and private institutions offer top-notch music studies. Participation in K-12 music programs is robust, with high school marching bands attracting hundreds of student musicians.
But, with more than 2,000 rural campuses dotting the Texas landscape, according to the U.S. Department of Education, there are challenges. Administrators grappling with a shortage of collaborative pianists are looking to Spirio | r for answers. Choral programs are often limited in choice of repertoire, and student rehearsals are relegated to a cappella, leaving choirs ill-equipped for vocal competitions.
Drawing on his experience with a Spirio | r Model B at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Dr. Robert Hansen sees a path for successfully engaging rural students and aiding them in achieving their highest level of artistry.“Our mission is to serve our region, and Spirio | r helps us serve it,” said the director of the school of music, adding that Steinway‘s cloud capabilities are a boon to rural students preparing for the rigors of university studies.
“The strength of Spirio‘s technology is what grabbed our attention,” said Dr. Hansen. “We knew we could do fabulous things in training our piano majors, whether they were soloists or collaborative artists, as well as training our singers in practicing their repertories.”
While just scratching the surface in terms of potential, Dr. Hansen said, “we are at the point where we take Spirio | r’s superior capture of performance for granted, and it obviously enhances the learning experience for our students. That is why we want to take it to smaller communities, where someone can record a flawless accompaniment on Spirio | r, and students can rehearse for a flawless performance at state competitions with a live accompanist.”
Envisioning a seamless Spirio | r network spanning the state in the not-too-distant future, “we are really going to raise the bar for music programs in terms of standards and quality,” Dr. Hansen predicted.
Our mission is to serve our region, and Spirio | r helps us serve it.
When one school in Texas gets a Spirio | r, others soon follow.
Bryan Elmore, director of educational services for Steinway & Sons North Texas and Houston, said Spirio | r inquiries are becoming increasingly routine with inventory analysis.
Texas leads the nation with 18 All-Steinway Schools and sales of more than 30 Spirio | r pianos.
“When having conversations in today’s environment, it is paramount that proposals for any new ideas contain benefits that extend beyond the walls of the college or university, and Spirio | r certainly fits that paradigm,” he said.
Elmore has worked at Steinway Hall Dallas/Fort Worth/Plano and Houston with the Saliba family for more than 12 years, forging priceless relationships with countless institutions.
“There’s a bond and trust based on credibility, integrity, and a mutual commitment to excellence by Steinway and the Saliba’s that I appreciate,” he said.
Deborah Moore, director of institutional sales and services for Central and South Texas, echoed similar sentiments regarding Spirio | r’s capabilities to conquer the geographic expanse.
Celebrating her 50th year in the industry, Moore has spent the last 26 with the Steinway Piano Gallery in Austin/San Antonio, founded in 1986 by Steve and Sherry Bird.
“While it’s cost-prohibitive for collaborative pianists to travel from school to school, Spirio | r provides the perfect way for students to make the most of rehearsals, so they can give their best performances at state competitions,” she said.
“School districts are now connecting with each other, and with performing arts centers and post-secondary institutions in ways unimaginable.”
The Big Texas Sky is the limit.
These notable Texas institutions own one or more Steinway Spirio | r pianos:
Arlington Independent School District
Baylor University, Waco
Buddy Holly Performance Center, Lubbock
Ector County Independent School District
Killeen Independent School District
KMFA Radio Station, Austin
Lubbock Independent School District
Melissa Independent School District
Odessa College, Odessa
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth
Texas A&M University, Commerce
Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital
Trinity University, San Antonio
University of Houston
University of Texas, El Paso
University of Texas, Permian Basin, Odessa
Wayland Baptist University, Plainview
West Texas A&M University, Canyon
Weatherford College, Weatherford