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“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”


– Johannes Brahms


THE STEINWAY AND THE SYMPHONY


Thanks to a generous donation by an anonymous donor, the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre assembled a piano selection team to decide which one of five brand new Steinway pianos would soon call St. Catharines home.


Among the task force: John Sherwood, jazz pianist and piano tuner who resides in Niagara and performs in the tradition of Oscar Peterson. Stewart Goodyear, the Niagara Symphony’s Artist-in- Residence who’s been called “one of the best pianists of his generation” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. David Rapelje, the PAC’s Operations Manager, expert production manager and skilled audio technician. The group eventually agreed on the Model D, Concert Grand piano. But with such high quality instruments - what does one even look or listen for, and how different can each piano be?


“A new piano is sometimes harder to buy than a used one, we have to anticipate certain things that will improve over time. All acoustic instruments with strings and a vibrating soundboard like violins and pianos will change over time; usually for the better,” explains John Sherwood. “A concert hall piano needs to be loud enough to be heard over a large orchestra, but [also] have enough character in the softer passages to be pleasant to listen to. We found the loudest piano we could find with a good strong tone and crystal clear notes.”


After reviewing a number of pianos from other leading manufacturers including Bosendorfer and Yamaha, it was evident that the legendary Steinway namesake was the perfect fit for the PAC. Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 by Heinrich (Henry) Steinweg in Manhattan. Steinweg began making pianos out of his home in Germany in the 1820s. In 1850 he immigrated to New York and over the next 30 years Henry and his sons perfected the creation of the modern piano. Steinway still build each piano by hand; each grand piano takes nearly a year to create. Once


24 CENTRESTAGE


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