Benedictine College to host Inaugural Steinway Concert Oct. 25

Benedictine College to host Inaugural Steinway Concert Oct. 25

Benedictine college was named an All-Steinway School over the summer as 21 new Steinway pianos, from flashy uprights to a beautiful concert grand, were brought to the campus in Atchison, Kan. The formal announcement of the distinctive designation will be made with representatives of Steinway & Sons prior to a concert by noted Steinway Artist Jane Solose. The event, set for Sunday, October 25, at 2:00 p.m. in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium, is free and open to the public.

Solose is a professor of piano at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City, in addition to being a featured pianist. She is listed on the distinguished international roster of Steinway Artists. Her three solo CDs were released by Eroica Classical Recordings and Capstone Records and her articles have been published in 20th Century Music and Clavier. She has performed and presented at College Music Society conferences in Austria, Argentina, and Japan and in the U.S. at American Liszt Festivals, and at Alan Walker’s Great Romantics Festival in Canada.

In 2011, she toured Eastern Europe where she presented solo recitals and master classes in Bulgaria and Hungary, and performed at Serbia’s World Piano Conference. In 2005 she presented solo recitals, lectures and master classes in South Korea, and performed Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Gwangu Symphony.

“Steinway & Sons is the top piano manufacturer in the world,” said Stephen D. Minnis, president of Benedictine College. “Their pianos, made by hand in New York, define excellence. Being designated an All-Steinway School demonstrates a commitment to the arts and a commitment to excellence. We are pleased to provide our students and faculty with the best equipment possible for the study of music.”

There are more than 2,500 colleges/universities in America and thousands more around the world, and only 172 have been designated as All-Steinway Schools. Now Benedictine College joins that elite list. Not only do these schools demonstrate a commitment to high quality music education, they also commit themselves to a specified Steinway maintenance schedule that includes temperature and humidity control as well as regular tuning by Steinway & Sons technicians.

“The dream of every music department in the world is to become an All-Steinway School and we are thrilled to be among the few institutions that have this honor,” said Dr. Ruth Krusemark, chair of the Music Department and the Mother Evangelista Kremmeter Professor of Benedictine Traditions and Values. “Our students will reap the greatest benefits of the pianos by practicing and performing on the best the industry has to offer. To make music on a Steinway increases your love for the wonderful sounds that the instrument provides and inspires students to reach for their highest performance potential.”

The arrival of pianos on campus was the culmination of a story that actually began in the 1970s when a young music student, Kathie Weishar, came to Benedictine College. Her experience at the college and her connection with S. Joachim Holthaus, OSB, her favorite music professor, enriched her love of music and especially the piano. Now married to Rick Dalzell, former Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Amazon.com, Kathie has imparted her excitement about the Benedictine College Music Department to her husband, and the couple has taken a special interest in the program.

“As a graduate in piano performance, the music department at Benedictine College will always be a special place with many fond memories for me,” she said. “Recently, Rick and I took a walk through the practice rooms and were concerned about the condition of the pianos. There was no question about the need for better instruments! We are thrilled to be able to make Benedictine College an All-Steinway School.”

The Dalzells gave a donation of nearly $1 million that allowed Benedictine College to make the move to an All-Steinway School. Their gift funded the purchase of 21 new Steinway pianos, as well as the refurbishment of all the teaching studios and rehearsal rooms. The gift also established an endowment that will perpetually fund the Steinway-approved maintenance program, assuring the pianos are kept in performance-quality condition.

“As chair of the Benedictine College Music Department and as a pianist, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to our donors who recognize the importance of giving back to Benedictine College and providing opportunities for our students,” Krusemark said. “Through their gift, the Dalzells have provided a legacy that will benefit students for at least the next half-century. We are deeply indebted to them for their generosity and love for the institution.”

Krusemark and Dalzell traveled to Steinway’s production facility in New York City and tried several pianos. They personally selected the Steinway Model D, or concert grand piano, that will stay on the stage in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium.

“Touring the Steinway factory was unlike anything I've ever experienced,” Dalzell said. “The selection process was exhilarating! Although the pianos are built the same, they each take on their own character. Ruth and I played several pianos and chose the ones we thought had the qualities in sound and action we were hoping for.”

In addition to the concert grand, Dalzell and Krusemark chose two Steinway Model B pianos while in New York. Often referred to as the “Music Room Grand,” the Model B is designed for smaller recital halls, auditoriums, and broadcasting, recording, or professional studios. Krusemark and other members of the Music Department also chose three more Model B pianos through Schmitt Music, a Steinway dealer in the Kansas City area. A dozen upright Steinway Model 1098 pianos and two small Model A “parlor grand” pianos were also included in the purchase.

About Steinway & Sons

Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street. Over the next thirty years, Henry and his sons, C. F. Theodore, Charles, Henry Jr., William, and Albert, developed the modern piano. They built their pianos one at a time, applying skills that were handed down from master to apprentice, generation after generation. Steinway is dedicated to the ideal of making the finest pianos in the world. The result is instruments renowned for their unsurpassed quality; pianos with such superior sound and responsive touch that they enchant the most demanding pianists.

About Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

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