Radford Celebrates Its All-Steinway Status
With many accolades and two performances on a stunning Steinway Model D concert grand piano, Radford University Thursday celebrated its designation as an All-Steinway School, a distinction held by only 130 institutions in the world.
Professor Al Wojtera, chair of the Department of Music, opened the ceremony in the Performance Hall of the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts. He welcomed the guests and explained the significance of the occasion. He said the All-Steinway status benefits Radford in many ways, including student recruitment, because it is synonymous with excellence and the highest standards. “Some names have certain recognition signifying excellence,” Wojtera said. “Steinway is one of those.”
He briefly recounted how Radford achieved its new status, starting with conversations and meetings in 2006, and he recognized faculty members and others involved from the inception of the “piano plan.” Among them was Eugene Fellin, dean emeritus of the Department of Music, who was in the audience and stood to applause acknowledging his role. Finally, Wojtera thanked Steinway representatives Ken Saliba, Rosa Hudson and Sally Coveleskie for attending the ceremony.
Joseph Scartelli, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, spoke next, explaining that the pianos are of such high quality that, with proper care, they will long outlast the buildings in which they are initially housed. He gave special thanks to President Penelope W. Kyle for her tireless dedication to bringing Radford into the ranks of All-Steinway schools and for her frequent attendance at university performances – “more than any other president,” Scartelli said.
The president spoke next, expressing pride that Radford’s new status happened during her term in office and so soon after the idea was first discussed. James Madison and George Mason are the only other universities in the Commonwealth to hold the All-Steinway designation, she said, adding that with this honor comes a responsibility to “care for these exquisite instruments, to protect them and keep them in the condition in which they were received.”
Kyle acknowledged three people who had the foresight to recognize the power of the Steinway project to transform the arts at Radford University: Bernadine Banning, who donated a Boston upright grand piano in memory of Fernande Gard, RU professor emerita of fashion; and Nancy and Edward Rice, who donated a Steinway Model B in honor of former RU Board of Visitors member and alumna Mary Ann Hovis.
Kyle thanked them for their generosity and expressed appreciation to everyone – faculty, Board of Visitors members, administration and staff – involved in what she described as one of the most significant events of her presidency. Wojtera then returned to the podium to introduce Coveleskie, national director of Institutional Sales for Steinway & Sons in New York.
Coveleskie congratulated Radford on its Steinway status and saluted it as “a university dedicated to excellence on every level.” She spoke of the benefits to music students, who typically spend hours a day in practice rooms. In that context, she said, “it is important to give them the best.”
To close the program, Associate Professor Nitza Kats played Robert Schumann’s “Widmung” (Dedication), and Associate Professor Wayne Gallops played the jazz standard “Body and Soul” by Johnny Green. The two took a curtain call together to sustained applause and cheers from the audience, which then moved to the atrium for a reception.
For a school to achieve All-Steinway status, at least 90 percent of its pianos must be Steinways. Radford’s Department of Music now owns 37 Steinway & Sons pianos, with 16 of those being grand pianos.
Founded in New York in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway, Steinway & Sons is reputed to be one of the world’s finest makers of pianos. A Steinway grand piano takes nearly a year to build, and as many as 200 people may be involved in assembling its more than 12,000 parts.