RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE:
melding technology & art
As seen in the Spring 2017 Edition of the Chronicle.
TROY, NY – World-renowned for making quantum technological leaps, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is investing in a proven handmade marvel from the industrial age – new pianos by Steinway & Sons.
“Our university community has come together and made a commitment to providing Steinway quality to our students and faculty in much the same way that human hands come together to shape the 12,000 parts that make a Steinway,” explained Dean Mary Simoni of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. “We share our love of music and commitment to quality.”
The relationship between innovative technology and the arts can be traced to the beginnings of human history. Based on the principles of solid engineering, Steinway has been handcrafting pianos since 1853.
Founded in 1824, RPI is believed to be the first technological research university in the United States, with an enduring mission of applying science to the common purposes of life. Dr. Simoni is “overjoyed that music has become an integral part of the RPI culture,” as evidenced by its designation as an All-Steinway School.
Paul Jennings, Artist Pianos; Sally Coveleskie, Steinway & Sons; Dean Mary Simoni and RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson.
“Steinway & Sons has touched so many lives in so many ways throughout history that one can only wonder what the new pianos at RPI will inspire.”
President Shirley Ann Jackson addressed RPI’s Annual Holiday Concert at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) expressing profound appreciation for Steinway & Sons.
“We thank Steinway & Sons for recognizing Rensselaer as a university that provides its students and faculty with the most advanced tools for education, for expression, for collaboration, and for innovation,” she said.
Sally Coveleskie, National Director of Higher Education Sales, said: “Steinway & Sons has touched so many lives in so many ways throughout history that one can only wonder what the new pianos at RPI will inspire.”
The concert’s theme – Musica de Profundis – stretched beyond traditional holiday fare to probe the frail yet exquisite nature of human experience. De Profundis, Latin for “from the depths,” beckoned the audience to explore what it means to be human through the shared experience of music.
“I placed my trust completely in the technical, musical and aesthetic craftsmanship of that Model D, viewing the performance as a coupling of my musical judgments with the vast expressiveness of the instrument.”
Dr. Simoni and engineering majors Russell Jones and John Vincent Parin wandered into one of the darkest periods of human history with Shostakovich Piano Trio #2, as she sought to enliven command of the Soviet composer’s rich harmonic and melodic vocabulary in order to reveal the existential.
Playing a Steinway concert grand, “I placed my trust completely in the technical, musical and aesthetic craftsmanship of that Model D, viewing the performance as a coupling of my musical judgments with the vast expressiveness of the instrument,” she said. The program also featured “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives and “Symphony No. 4, Op. 36 by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, conducted by Nicholas DeMaison, music director of the Rensselaer Orchestra, which included freshmen in the Class of 2020, the largest class in school history.
Dr. Simoni especially thanked alumnus Philip Maloof (’58), who donated a Steinway grand piano in memory of his mother and two uncles. She also cited Jo Beth Dellinger and Paul Jennings at Artist Pianos Albany. “They are flexible, dependable, and responsive, a joy to work with,” she said. “They understand the importance of providing access to quality instruments and what it takes to support a growing music program.”
Later this year, RPI plans to launch a technologically-focused Bachelor of Science degree in music. Expanding the curriculum will benefit current students, many of whom are accomplished musicians, while bringing in new recruits eager to explore unlimited possibilities of merging technology with art. “The students are delighted to have such quality instruments on which to practice and perform, and their parents are thrilled with our ongoing commitment to arts education,” Dr. Simoni said.