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All Together Now: Keene State Joins The Worldwide Ranks of All-Steinway Schools

Story By:
Paul Miller | Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations
Kirsten Becker '20
Professor Christina Wright-Ivanova works with Kirsten Becker ’20 as Kirsten prepares for her performance-major recital. Kirsten's recital was the debut performance of a newly acquired Keene State Steinway, donated by the Fillman Family in memory of Jesse R. Fillman.

Coveted Status Called A Boon For College, Greater Community

In the minds of many involved with the yearslong project, it is a moment to open the windows and shout: Keene State College has achieved the designation of All-Steinway School, a distinction that sets its music program apart from all others — public or private — in New Hampshire.

But there’s more.

New Hampshire’s public liberal arts college, Keene State also becomes just the second public institution in New England to reach All-Steinway status and can boast of being one of just more than 200 colleges, universities and conservatories across five continents to display the iconic insignia, a symbol of excellence for more than a century and a half.

And there’s more still.

Keene State is just the third institution in the All-Steinway family to adopt the Spirio technology for the concert stage and institutional use. Brown and Harvard are the others, and MIT will become the fourth, said Patrick Elisha of M. Steinert & Sons, the oldest independent Steinway dealer in the world.

With Steinways, our students, faculty, and guest artists can create colors in sound that inspire and enrich the college and the Keene community.”

– Dr. Christina Wright-Ivanova, music faculty

Among the All-Steinway Schools are The Juilliard School in New York, Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Yale School of Music, and Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, School of Piano.

“This has been a remarkable effort by the whole Keene community. I’m thrilled to have been a small part of it,” said Brendan P. Murphy, president of Boston-based M. Steinert & Sons.

A generous grant from the Putnam Foundation made possible the purchase of a Steinway & Sons Spirio | r concert grand piano. The Spirio, which features recording and playback capability, completes the 18-piano fleet needed for Keene State’s All-Steinway designation.

Nabil Hetman Steinway
Nabil Hetman ’25 practices on a Steinway in one of the college’s teaching studios. “Most likely, he’s the most advanced piano performance major we’ve ever had in the music department,” one of his professors said.

On March 1, a delegation of Keene State representatives and All-Steinway, All Together donors will travel to the Steinway factory in Astoria, Queens, N.Y., to see these famous pianos being built by hand and to select the college’s new Spirio. Steinway representatives are generously opening the factory for a tour.

Keene State President Dr. Melinda Treadwell said, “We embraced a big dream to start this journey, and we experienced gratifying support from our community and donors who joined us in this dream. This rare designation raises not only the profile of the college but also of our already renowned music program. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Keene State offers a nationally accredited conservatory-level music program. Professors, many of whom are performance artists, work with several hundred students who take music classes and lessons and who play in ensembles. Fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the Keene State music program offers five music degrees and a music minor.

Regarded as the finest pianos available, Steinways are long-term investments, according to Dr. Christina Wright-Ivanova, associate professor and coordinator of keyboard studies at Keene State.

“Our students are already performing better, are more excited to practice, and are more aware of the full range of sounds that can be crafted from the instrument,” she said “When our students first perform on a new Steinway, it can be a deeply powerful experience. … Now knowing that there will also be the world-class Steinway Spirio 9-foot Concert Grand on our stage is thrilling and provides endless opportunities for all our music majors.”

All-Steinway schools are funded through fiscal budgets, donors, or a combination. In Keene State’s case, the music department used institutionally budgeted funds to purchase one upright Steinway, but the rest came from donors. Every Keene State student practice module and classroom now has one of the finest pianos available.

All-Steinway, All Together raised $803,697 from 161 donors, according to Marilyn Shriver, director of development at Keene State.

“Pianos are the backbone of any music program, and thanks to the generosity of our alumni and friends, Keene State’s music programs now have the finest pianos,” Shriver said. “These instruments are known to last at least 30 years, so every gift is a meaningful investment in the performing arts and arts education in the Monadnock Region.”

Keene State’s new Steinways include practice room uprights, grands, and the concert grand, which will live on the Main Stage at the Redfern Arts Center.

Steinway describes All-Steinway Schools as “demonstrating a commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculties with the best equipment possible for the study of music.”

To achieve the designation, 90 percent or more of the acoustic pianos owned by an institution must be Steinways. That condition is one of several that must be met to earn the designation. Another is that Steinways must be placed in all performance spaces, all performance rehearsal spaces, all piano teaching studios, and all piano major practice rooms.

“With Steinways,” Wright-Ivanova said, “our students, faculty, and guest artists can create colors in sound that inspire and enrich the college and the Keene community.”

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