The Voice: Fall 2002

The Voice

Dordt College music department receives gift of new Steinway

For the Dordt College music department, it was like Christmas in July. A big, beautiful new Steinway piano arrived on campus mid-July, thanks to a generous donation from an alum and her husband.

“Steinway pianos really have a superior tone quality and playing ability,” says Dordt music professor Joan Ringerwole. “They’re the top of the line; the gold standard for pianos. Artists everywhere in the world play on Steinways—in fact, some artists refuse to play in concert unless they can play on a Steinway.”

Music department chair Karen DeMol believes the acquisition of the piano will aid music education and recruitment, as well as enhancing concert possibilities. “Through the instrument, we will be able to draw a new level of performing artists to appear in concert at Dordt.” Dordt already has scheduled one such artist —renowned pianist John Owings will be on campus Oct. 12 to perform in the piano’s dedication.

DeMol emphasized that Dordt’s piano students will also be able to perform on a piano that “better allows their technique and musicianship to bloom.”

The Steinway is a Model D, fresh off the assembly line in Queens, NY. At nine feet long and weighing nearly half a ton, it is the biggest piano Steinway produces. Because Steinway pianos are painstakingly handmade and no two are alike, DeMol and Ringerwole traveled to New York with Scott Schopert of Sioux Falls’ Schmitt Music to select one. They had six to choose from.

Ringerwole and DeMol spent an entire day in mid-April playing and listening to the six pianos. “It wasn’t an easy task,” says Ringerwole. “Each piano has its own person-ality and it has to be matched with what you’re going to use it for. Some may have deeper bass, or a richer middle range, or a more brilliant top. Some are bright all the way up.” The piano they chose was one she describes as “a bit more subdued…We wanted one with a very even sound up and down the keyboard,” she says.

The piano is housed in a small room off the auditorium stage, with carefully controlled temperature and humidity.

The piano has a retail price of nearly $90,000, but Dordt was able to acquire it for about $75,000 with its educational discount. The donors, who prefer to remain anonymous, funded the full purchase price.

“It’s wonderful that friends and alumni are willing and interested in providing funding for many different things,” said Vice President for College Advancement Lyle Gritters. “A wide range of needs exist that we are often unable to fund through regular budget channels, and this is one way we can meet those needs.”