First United Presbyterian Church

Our New Piano

 

We are very excited that our church has purchased a 2007 Steinway Concert and Artist Model B grand piano for our Sanctuary. On Sunday, March 27, you’ll get to see and hear this beautiful piano for the first time. I am so thankful to the members of the Worship Ministry Team and the Session for supporting our request for a newer piano. Our Baldwin grand piano has served us very well for many years, but it is time for an upgrade. We have moved the Baldwin from the Sanctuary to the Fellowship Hall to be used for children’s musicals, First School productions, or special services.

In January, Hyun Kim and I began looking for a newer piano that would meet the needs of our congregation. After talking with Steinway dealers in Little Rock, Tulsa, and Dallas-Fort Worth, we drove to the Steinway piano gallery near Little Rock to look at an instrument.

This particular piano was selected by Steinway Artists (a roster of the best musicians in the world) and it was only used for concerts by those artists. We know the history of the instrument, where the piano has been, and that it was maintained exclusively by Steinway technicians in New York. It is in new condition and as a result, it comes with a warranty. These Concert and Artist pianos are normally not released for sale to the public because they are reserved exclusively for use by Steinway Artists. However, due to Covid-19 and the supply chain problems, the Little Rock store has had access to a couple of these fantastic pianos. Since this was the last Concert and Artist Model B that would be made available for the balance of the year, we wanted an opportunity to test one. We feel this instrument will meet the needs of our congregation for many years to come.

Choosing a piano is a complicated process. Each instrument has a different personality and tone. In fact, it is not uncommon when selecting a piano to spend 4-6 hours in a piano gallery playing each instrument to discern the individual character and nuances of the instrument(s) before choosing a piano. Hyun and I looked at this instrument from the standpoint of what it could bring to our worship services but also for concert purposes. Additionally, every pianist has a different “touch” at the piano, so we needed an instrument that could meet various criteria (and a variety of styles of music).

Pianist Dr. Paul Orgel (University of Vermont), says, “Choosing a piano tends to be very personal and subjective. But primarily, there is a sense that the piano obeys your wishes in terms of voicing and in terms of speaking. When you play a melody in the right hand and balance it with the left hand, can you control those differences of sound? Can you get the quietness, can you get the projection of sound in the bass? Pianos have differences in terms of the action, the touch (the lightness or heaviness of pushing the keys down). There are some pianos that are bright, and some that are muted somewhat, and some that are different from register to register.”

Why did we purchase a top-tier Steinway piano?

  • We want to have a quality instrument that will last us for many years to use in our worship services and for concerts. Several years ago, we invested in upgrading our pipe organ and now it’s time for us to do the same for our grand piano.
  • The materials, craftsmanship, and longevity of a top-tier piano is superior to lower-tier instruments. Thus, the value of a Steinway is very high, and these instruments retain their value upon resale. Steinway offers a “Lifetime Trade-Up” program that allows the purchaser at ANY time in their lifetime to receive 100% of their purchase price towards a new Steinway.
  • Our instrument (because it is a Concert and Artist grand piano maintained by Steinway techs in NYC) comes with a warranty.
  • Lower-tier instruments require more regulation to keep them in decent playing condition.
  • It is nice to have an instrument that professional musicians know represents quality and high standards.

I would encourage you to watch this 10-minute video on how Steinway pianos are made. It is quite fascinating:

 

The Steinway will be regulated and voiced specifically for our sanctuary. Additionally, it has just been upgraded with entirely new hammers and flanges, essentially making it a brand-new instrument for us (a $3,000 job at no charge to us). At some point in the spring or summer, we will have a dedication service for the new piano.

Thank you,

Isaac Thomas,

Director of Music Ministries

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