The Catholic University of America

Feb. 27, 2013

Q-and-A With the Music Dean

  Music School Piano

The new Steinway D concert grand piano in Ward Hall.

On Sept. 24, the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music dedicated its latest addition, a 9-foot New York Steinway D concert grand piano. To showcase the new instrument, the Piano Division is sponsoring a concert series that began in November and features both faculty and guest artist recitals. All of the recitals are free and take place in Ward Recital Hall. On Thursday, Feb. 28, Nikita Fitenko, associate professor of piano, will perform the first recital of the spring semester. As the concert approaches, Dean Grayson Wagstaff shares some of the little-known facts about the series and the new instrument.

Why did the music school decide to purchase the new piano?

The music school had not purchased a new performance-quality concert grand in many years and we very much needed an outstanding instrument that matches the quality of our students and faculty members as well as the internationally known guest artists who perform in various events in the music school. The piano program in the music school has long been recognized as one of the great performance programs at an American university. The list of teachers in this program includes a number of legendary artists who have brought great acclaim to CUA.

What are some of the qualities of this instrument that led to its selection?

This instrument is a special new model that the Steinway company in New York has only started to produce in the past year. This piano includes several attributes formerly available only on the German Hamburg Steinway. The faculty members and our technician, Tom Wright, found this particular piano to have an especially beautiful sound and unusual ability to sustain notes for a very long period of time. After trying at least a dozen pianos, it was clear that this particular piano was a very special instrument.

What is the range of styles and capabilities that will be displayed by the faculty performers from the music school?

Our students, faculty, and guests will perform a wide variety of music, from the early predecessors of the piano, such as the harpsichord, up through the 19th- and 20th-century music that forms the core of the classical repertory, as well as music from the jazz tradition and musical theatre. Just as our curricula emphasize the piano in collaboration with other instruments and voice, our concerts will present the instrument in various kinds of music in collaboration with singers and instrumentalists, in addition to the solo repertory.

How were the international performers selected? Will they be giving lectures or other performances while they are on campus?

The international performers were selected by our faculty members in the Piano Division. All of the performers are well recognized as recitalists and teachers. Typically the guest performers give a master class in which they critique performances by our students and give the students suggestions on various pieces that each is preparing.

Why did you choose a concert series to share this new instrument with the campus and community?

We feel that a concert series is the natural, obvious way to share our joy at having this beautiful new piano since this will give all of the students and faculty at CUA the opportunity to hear world class performances. We hope to share this beautiful music with the community and have as many students attend these performances as possible.

Click here for recital dates and a list of performers. 


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