Shenandoah Conservatory completed its four-year All-Steinway Initiative this summer, raising $2.7 million and adding 27 Steinways and 57 Steinway-produced Bostons to Shenandoah’s fleet of concert, studio, and rehearsal pianos.
“We wanted the best for our students,” said President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. “If we’re preparing them to perform on the best stages in the world, then we needed to give them the best instruments on which to learn. That principle fueled our vision for this initiative.”
“This plan, this dream, this hope, has turned into an extraordinary reality, and one that has even exceeded our expectations and hopes,” said Shenandoah Conservatory Dean Michael Stepniak, Ed.D. “I’m thrilled, not only that this plan is complete and that the instruments are here, but that we’ve met our needs at every level.”
According to Dr. Stepniak, pianos touch nearly every academic discipline across the conservatory. They are located in almost every practice or performance space, including several faculty studios, rehearsal rooms and suites.
The initiative required both a great idea and a strong plan, said Fitzsimmons, but without the financial resources to bring it to fruition, it would have remained only a dream.
“We already had the best possible faculty for our students, but they needed the best instruments,” said Fitzsimmons. “Shenandoah is a magical place. We make things happen here, but we don’t do it alone. We do it in concert with our students and faculty, and we do it in partnership with our donors, alumni and friends.”
“Several dear friends and donors saw the need and supported the vision,” said Fitzsimmons. “They helped to make this dream a reality. Some said, ‘we can pay for part of a piano.’ Some said, ‘I can do an upright [piano],’ while others said ‘I can provide the concert grand piano.’ It really took everyone understanding how important this initiative was, and how important every gift, at every level, was to completing the vision.”
Now that the initiative is complete, Shenandoah joins an elite roster of All-Steinway schools, affirming its commitment to excellence in pre-professional training for all students.
“We have provided for our students in the best way possible,” said Fitzsimmons. “We’ve given them Steinways.”
If we're preparing students to perform on the best stages in the world, then we needed to give them the best instruments on which to learn. That principle fueled our vision for this initiative. —President Tracy Fitzsimmons
Shenandoah’s Sept. 25 celebration of the completion of its All-Steinway School Initiative was, quite literally, the icing on the cake, via a life-sized Steinway Model “B” piano cake created by Buddy Valastro of Carlo’s Bake Shop. Valastro is known as the “Cake Boss” and is one of the stars of the TLC reality show of the same name.
Students, faculty and donors joyously thronged the Carlo’s Bake Shop refrigerated truck as it arrived on campus and parked at a tent erected in front of Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre. A sea of smartphones appeared as the truck’s rear door slid open to reveal the cake, and cheers erupted as the first piece was sliced and served.
The cutting of the cake was the culmination of an afternoon of appreciation that began with Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., Shenandoah Conservatory Dean Michael Stepniak, Ed.D., and representatives from the conservatory and Steinway & Sons addressing an audience of donors, special guests, students, faculty and staff. The event also included student piano performances and a plaque presentation by Ron Losby, president of Steinway-Americas, and Sally Covaleskie, national director of Steinway Higher Education Sales.
It was a day to remember. And those memories will remain alive at Shenandoah, every time a Steinway is played.