CHATTANOOGA, TN – Energizing the new Chapel and Fine Arts Center at St. Nicholas School, Steinway Artists Gloria Chien and Ning An etched indelible impressions on curious young minds through the highly emotive music of Chopin.
“You could see it in the faces of our students,” said Music Director Kara Miscio, who helped select a new Steinway Model O for the landmark building that opened in October 2016 after a successful capital campaign. “They watched in wide-eyed wonder throughout the entirety of the concert, but the three loud chords that concluded Ning’s performance of Preludes No. 23 and 24 gave them a big surprise! Observing their obvious physical response to the music, my greatest hope for these children was re-affirmed: that they will endeavor to seek these types of rich musical experiences throughout their lives.”
Gloria and Ning share a special bond with the school through their son, Nolan, a former student, who was on hand Feb. 22nd to hear his classmates in the Upper Primary Choir sing “The Hymn of Promise,” which contains the phrase “unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
“My greatest hope for these children was re-affirmed: that they will endeavor to seek these types of rich musical experiences throughout their lives.”
“It was a fitting choice for the day as we revealed our designation as Tennessee’s first Steinway Select K-12 School,” Ms. Miscio said.
From humble origins in the basement of Grace Episcopal Church, STNS relocated in 1994 to a 24-acre campus in East Brainerd. The property formerly housed an outpatient facility and offered an abundance of state-of-the-art amenities, but no dedicated space for Chapel. As a daily focal point where the community gathers to give thanks to God, “Chapel represents more than just a space – it is a special feeling,” she said. For many years, Chapel was conducted in the gym, with Ms. Miscio and Artist-in-Residence Carey Shinbaum accompanying on a digital keyboard or guitar. The school ultimately recognized a need for more suitable accommodations, and after several years of planning broke ground in 2015.
Working closely with Buddy Shirk of Summitt Pianos, the teachers mapped a strategy to secure the best possible instruments for their students and upgraded facilities. “We began with an on-site inventory analysis and a tour of the new Chapel that was under construction,” Ms. Miscio recalls. “We communicated with Buddy and spent a good deal of time in the Summitt showroom, playing and discussing features of various models.” They also reached out to piano technician Sheffey Gregory and private instructors in the STNS after school program, as well as visiting practice rooms at Southern Adventist University, a nearby All-Steinway School.
“Our Steinway O will attract the attention of world-class musicians, but more importantly, it will capture the hearts and minds of our students, and those of generations yet to come,”
“We wanted solid, well-built instruments with presence and clarity that would not overwhelm the space. Buddy provided several options and we ultimately chose the O for the chapel and a Boston GP-156 for the music room,” she said. Based on faculty preference, another four pianos from the Boston and Essex families were selected for the practice rooms.
Ms. Miscio now sees a steady stream of students and parents traversing the private studios after school – many of whom participate regularly in Chapel services. “STNS has always had a hands-on approach to learning, and we love the fact that all students, not only those taking private lessons, have an opportunity to touch, play, hear and experience these pianos,” she said. “We can reinforce the concept of responsibility; show them how performers respectfully approach these instruments or mentally engage them as observant listeners.”
With six pianos by Steinway & Sons, STNS is one step closer to achieving its goal of helping students recognize the extraordinary power of music, exposing them to a variety of cultures, styles, people and performances.
“Our Steinway O will attract the attention of world-class musicians, but more importantly, it will capture the hearts and minds of our students, and those of generations yet to come,” Ms. Miscio said.