Southwestern seminary celebrates biblical sojourn to All-Steinway
FORT WORTH, TEXAS – There was nothing carved in stone, but seven years passed as the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary embarked on a faith-filled journey to become an All-Steinway School. Anything more or less just wouldn’t feel right to those intimately familiar with the biblical number of completion.
When Bryan Elmore, Director of Institutional Sales at Steinway Hall Dallas, first called on the Fort Worth campus, any thought of etching Southwestern Seminary’s name on such an élite roster seemed unimaginable.
“Through the generous support of our friends and family, we can now affirm that every student is using a Steinway piano,” says First Lady Dorothy Patterson. “We are thankful that God would bring this dream to fruition.”
Founded in 1908, Southwestern Seminary has educated and inspired more than 44,000 graduates to fulfill callings to local churches and global outposts. Adding 76 pianos crafted by skilled hands at the Steinway & Sons factory in New York brings a powerful voice to that mission through the School of Church Music.
“Some might think it unusual that a seminary would purchase a whole fleet of new pianos,” admits Professor Robert C. Smith, who heads the Piano Department. “But we have seen that Southern Baptists have consistently supported music in their churches, colleges, and universities. What a joy it is to offer Steinways to our students and teachers as we continue to send more stellar pianists into the world!”
To build a musician’s ear, Professor Jill Sprenger notes that one of the best places to start is by hearing the beautiful sounds of a Steinway. “We are presenting our Baptist constituency an unparalleled opportunity to make excellent music to the Glory of God,” she says.
The purchase has a retail value of nearly $6 million, a maintenance endowment of $1 million and an additional sponsorship for maintenance of $250,000. Southwestern boasts one of the most diverse inventories of Steinway grands and uprights in recent institutional memory – 32 Model 1098, 12 Model B, 11 Model A, six K-52, four each of Model D and S, three each of Model M and O, and one Model L.
“One of the key parts of this project was a maintenance fund that God provided as an early gift to assure that these instruments are kept in the best possible condition for long-term use,” adds Mrs. Patterson.
Throughout the process, staff and donors visited Astoria and observed many of the 300 artisans who built the pianos that now populate every practice room, teaching studio, stage, and performance venue. In December 2014, Southwestern’s plan gathered serious momentum with a Keyboards and Carols at Christmas Concert that, despite inclement weather, drew 2,800 patrons.
Dean Leo Day of the School of Church Music ignited the April 5th All-Steinway salute as part of the seminary’s 13th Annual Gala. “At Southwestern, we train our students to perform skillfully so that when they share their musical testimony, we can worship passionately,” he explains. “Now that we are an All-Steinway school of music, our students, for generations to come, will study with the best music faculty in the best school on the best instruments this side of heaven.”
While the audience listened to the Southwestern Master Chorale, Singers, Chapel Choir, International Children’s Choir, and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Mrs. Patterson took a cue from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. She signaled a confetti cannonade propelling gold, black, and white streamers across MacGorman Chapel in celebration.
Earlier, she joined her husband, President Paige Patterson, and Ron Losby, President, Steinway & Sons-Americas, in signing the last piano to finish the All-Steinway campaign. That signature instrument is destined for Mathena Hall, future home of the College at Southwestern and the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
Losby, who performed at the Christmas concert, applauded Southwestern for its devotion to musical excellence. “The power of music to me is the penultimate power in the world and it helps us support the ultimate power in the world. By commit-ting to the number of instruments that are going to touch the lives of many students for years to come, it shows that South-western believes that, in this life, excellence matters,” he says.
Dr. Leo Day leads the combined ensembles
Rachel Park, a doctoral student, performs at the Southwestern Sminary's Gala