UNC Designated as All-Steinway School Thanks to Donor Funds
March 29, 2021
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) College of Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) received a total of 96 new Steinway & Sons pianos, with most of them arriving in December of 2018, sealing the School of Music’s All-Steinway School status.
This effort is tied to the All-Steinway Initiative, a $1.26 million project to replace UNC’s old piano fleet. Many generous donors made the All-Steinway Initiative a reality, including long-time UNC supporters Bob and Bonnie Phelps.
The Phelps family is an established name at UNC, most notably with the Contribute, Achieve and Pay-it-Forward (CAP) annual scholarship awards, which recognize students who demonstrate exceptional and exemplary personal commitment in contributing, achieving and paying it forward and contain considerations for DACA and ASSET status students.
“It’s really important to us that UNC provide PVA students the ‘tools’ needed to optimize helping them develop their skills,” the Phelps wrote. “These new pianos from Steinway will further help inspire students to realize their artistic talents and better prepare them to compete at higher levels in the professional world, if that’s their goal.”
UNC is Colorado’s first publicly funded institution of higher education to receive the designation (one privately funded institution in the state is also an All-Steinway School) and one of only a few in the region designated as an All-Steinway School. Fewer than 200 institutions worldwide carry the designation.
With nearly 450 music students ranging from freshmen to doctoral levels and more than 75 faculty and staff, the School of Music is actively creating and learning about music of all styles and genres. Hosting more than 200 performances each year (before the COVID-19 pandemic), in addition to countless other events throughout Greeley, the School of Music affords students a variety of opportunities to engage as artistic leaders in the community.
Like most renowned conservatories and universities, UNC recognizes that providing students with access to gifted musicians as professors, a music lab with the latest in music technology, state of the art performance spaces and quality instruments will enhance their education and experience.
“What I really think is remarkable about this project is that it's highly collaborative and really touched so many facets of the university and our students and donors,” Kiki Gilderhus, Ph.D., interim dean of UNC’s PVA, said. “It also says something about the power of these collaborations. That is to say, when you partner donors and schools within the college, what you're seeing is this ability to really change the lives of our students and faculty, and that is a worthwhile and important aspect of this gift and what this gift shows.”
The Steinway pianos were placed in Frasier Hall, Campus Commons and Milne Auditorium in Kepner Hall, replacing old pianos on campus that were either traded in, disposed of or refurbished depending on their condition. Watch a Facebook video of the pianos being delivered in December of 2018.
The rich, unrivaled sound, incomparable tone and pristine touch of Steinway & Sons pianos shows UNC’s commitment to giving its students an unparalleled educational experience, inspiring students to realize their artistic talents and best prepare them to compete at the highest level in the professional world.
“What makes a piano, an instrument, really special is its capacity to express the variety of emotions, that variety of sounds, and allows us to express our emotions through that with relative ease and clarity,” Adam Zukiewicz, D.M.A., associate professor of Piano at UNC, said. “That is very difficult to obtain from any instrument, but Steinways, the way they are designed, the way they’re made, the attention to detail and the tradition that they have and the craftsmanship of their pianos, is so rich that they have really excelled in that. They are one of the best makers of instruments in the world, and that’s what makes it really special, is that ability to create and to express anything we want as musicians on the piano.”
Steinway pianos take a year to make, and the final stages of building began after they arrived on campus. Once fully built, the pianos were moved to their final destinations across campus where professional piano tuners tuned them. The pianos were then acclimated to the Colorado climate; one of the most challenging environments for pianos due to the humidity (or lack thereof). The initial tuning lasted a few weeks with the tuners returning around a month later to tune the pianos once more.
Learn more about the making of these stunning musical instruments in this video.
—Written by Katie Corder