Steinway 1 makes grand return with Western New York Chamber Orchestra

On Sunday at 4 p.m., the Steinway 1 concert grand piano will return to beautiful music making in Ebony and Ivory, an all-piano concert featuring New York City pianist Marjean Olson in the famous Saint Saens Carnival of the Animals, together with WNYCO Conductor Glen Cortese as duo pianists.

This event is particularly exciting as it marks the return of one of the two concert grand pianos in King Concert Hall on the SUNY Fredonia campus after many months of expert repair by SUNY Fredonia Head Piano Technician Graham Howes.

Steinway 1, as the instrument is called, had developed cracks in its soundboard and become unglued from some of its supporting structures. This can be devastating to the instrument without accurate diagnosis and perfect repairs, and had already displayed signs of distress in the form of loud “buzzing noises” and an overall lack of volume. But after countless hours of diagnosis by removing strings, tuning pins, dampers, and the piano’s cast iron plate, the problems were discovered and corrected with cracks repaired, gluing restored, the plate re-installed, and the instrument re-strung and “voiced” to be performance ready. This is no ordinary job, and requires not only long years of training and unique skills as a craftsman, but also a deep respect for the instrument, as if it were a living being.

Howes is that unique craftsman. He oversees hundreds of pianos, of all shapes, sizes, and ages on campus. It is an enormous task, and one which is done entirely out of the spotlight, often at the earliest and latest hours of the day, in order to have the instruments in their best condition for every student, faculty, and guest appearance throughout the very busy SUNY Fredonia performance schedule. Howes considers these instruments “his babies and treats them as such. I always feel a sense of pride when an artist says they love the piano (I have worked on). If a performer is happy and comfortable with the instrument, I know they will be inspired to give a great performance.”

The Western New York Chamber Orchestra is honored to celebrate the “new” Steinway 1 by featuring acclaimed New York City pianist Marjean Olson in three works, which will highlight the instrument. In addition to the Carnival of the Animals, Olson will perform the Ernest Bloch Concerto Grosso No. 1 as well as Elegy (for Giampaolo) composed by Glen Cortese, Artistic Director of the Western New York Chamber Orchestra.

Marjean Olson is a member of the Piano Faculty at the Manhattan School of Music where, in addition to studio teaching she serves as Assistant Dean of Academics and Director of Keyboard Skills. She is a sought after speaker on the art of Piano Pedagogy and has devoted much of her life to educating professional musicians in the art of teaching.

The Western New York Chamber Orchestra is a Professional-Ensemble-in-Residence at SUNY Fredonia and has been bringing the world’s most beautiful music to the King Concert Hall stage for over 30 years.

Tickets for Ebony and Ivory may be purchased through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office..