School of Music invests in 27 new Steinway pianos
December 13th, 2017
A major investment in new musical instruments at the University of Leeds was celebrated yesterday with the performance of a specially-composed piece of music for all the new pianos.
The premiere marked the early morning arrival of 27 new Steinway pianos in the School joining a concert grand already there, which has enabled it to gain the coveted All-Steinway School status.
Leeds has joined prestigious international institutions such as New York’s Juilliard School and becomes the first member of the UK’s Russell Group of universities to use the instruments – favoured by the world’s top pianists – throughout its practise rooms and concert halls.
Dr Mic Spencer, Deputy Head of the School of Music, created and performed Resonance/Light/Decay with one of his former PhD students, composer Dr Alannah Marie Halay (both pictured, above).
The 28 performers in the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall today were made up of staff, students and guests from some of the University’s partner organisations such as Opera North.
Taking to the keys were Head of the School of Music, Dr Karen Burland, and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, Professor Frank Finlay – who is also Director of the University’s Cultural Institute.
The University has invested just over £742,000 in the pianos – a combination of uprights, baby grands and concert grands.
The upgraded facilities will enable students across a wide range of courses in the school to practise, perform, compose and record with top quality instruments. Members of the hugely successful Leeds University Union Music Society from across all of the University’s faculties will also benefit from using the new pianos.
The School of Music has secured a top 10 place in the Complete University Guide and is part of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures – itself a significant global player with a top 100 position in the respected QS World University subject rankings.
Dr Burland said: “We are very excited about the opportunities this investment affords the School, its students and staff. We know it will help us continue to attract world-class performers and colleagues. It will also help strengthen our place in the cultural life of the city.”
University Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands added: “This investment comes at an exciting time for culture on campus and across the city and will help fulfil two of the three key aims of our new Cultural Institute: the widening of cultural engagement and participation, and the enhancement of the skills of our students. It also responds directly to the demand from students for improved practise facilities in the University.”
Most of the School’s old pianos have been found new homes among local schools and community groups.
An inaugural public concert next summer will celebrate the pianos’ arrival and the All-Steinway Status. In the meantime, they will be enjoyed by staff, students and members of the public alike in performances as part of the University’s International Concert Series programme.
Recognition by Steinway will also enhance the University’s long-running relationship with the Leeds International Piano Competition. Steinway & Sons, like the University, is a principal partner of the globally-famous competition, first held in 1963 and hosted and supported by the University from the start.
Twelve previous winners of the triennial piano competition are now Steinway Artists, as are the contest’s Global Ambassador Lang Lang, Joint Artistic Director Paul Lewis and the three pianists featuring in next May’s Leeds Piano Festival.
Mr Lewis said: “We commend the University’s commitment to ensuring its students have the best instruments on which to practise.
“The 2018 competition will have a stronger than ever international focus, with live free-to-view international streaming and first rounds taking place in New York, Berlin and Singapore. This will place a spotlight on Leeds – and the University – as never before.”
Other new investments at the School of Music include the installation of cinema facilities in its 250-seat Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall, the creation of a Livestream video performance space at the heart of the school’s newly-refurbished Concert Hall Foyer, and investment in a new Apple Mac computer cluster to link composition technology with recently re-developed recording studios.