School of Music family exclaims ‘Willkommen!’ to new German pianos, shares Italian surprise

The NIU School of Music’s new Hamburg Steinway.

The NIU School of Music’s new Hamburg Steinway.

This summer has seen several changes to the piano inventory at the NIU School of Music.

Piano faculty have added Grotrian and Hamburg Steinway semi-concert grand pianos to the Recital Hall. They also retired a well-worn Yamaha upright and replaced it with a new Schimmel upright.

The Schimmel and Grotrian both hail from Braunsweig, Germany. The Hamburg comes from, well, Hamburg.

Last year, the school experimented with the use of a slightly shorter piano in the Recital Hall, as the sound of the wonderful 9-foot American Steinway Model D had “opened up” and was moved to Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, where its big voice matches the large hall.

PianoForte Chicago generously provided a Grotrian 7.5 foot semi-concert grand piano for the Recital Hall last year, which allowed the faculty to confirm it indeed was the right size for the space.

NIU purchased the new Grotrian in May, with faculty declaring a 7.5-foot Hamburg Model C semi-concert grand piano would ideally complete a two-piano Recital Hall inventory, even though finding an available Model C in the United States soon might be impossible.

Then, unexpectedly, a Hamburg Steinway Model C became available in Chicago in July. The piano faculty went to try the instrument and quickly fell in love with it.

Carla Montgomery

Carla Montgomery

Carla W. Montgomery, a retired member of the NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty and a former associate dean of the Graduate School, learned of the opportunity.

Montgomery explained that she was a piano accompanist for her choirs in school and understood the impact a great piano has on the performances of pianists and their musical collaborators.

With a few strokes of a pen, she changed impossible to possible, and immediate arrangements were made. After a harrowing ride on end atop the elevator leaving its old home (not the recommended method!) it has now arrived at NIU!

Anyone wishing to try the Schimmel upright will have to ask Jui-Ching Wang nicely. It is in her office.

And the Italian surprise?

Arrangements have been made with PianoForte Chicago for the use of a rare 9-foot Fazioli F278 concert grand piano in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. With its first pianos built only 30 years ago, Fazioli has quickly gained a reputation as the most finely crafted pianos in the world – only 110 are made each year in Italy – and the Fazioli piano has been described as “an instrument of rare distinction.”

“Our performance pianos will be the envy of many institutions, as is our piano technician David Graham who facilitated our receiving all of these pianos,” says Paul Bauer, director of the NIU School of Music. “Our students, faculty, and community will all enjoy these fabulous instruments, not to mention people in more than 150 countries around the world via out LIVE HD WEBCASTS and YouTube videos.”

Anyone wishing to donate for the next piano purchase should speak to Bauer or Rich Holly, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. They have a list!

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