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UWPlatteville gets a new piano

A new Steinway “D” Concert Grand piano made the 1,000-mile journey from the Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria, N.Y., to the UW–Platteville Center for the Arts earlier this month.

The handmade, half-ton piano, which took a year to construct, made its official debut at the UW–Platteville Rountree Ensemble concert Wednesday.

“The students benefit from this and the faculty benefit from this,” said UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields, who was on hand to see the piano delivered to the CFA. “Having top quality equipment makes a difference. If you were a chemist or biologist, you would want the best equipment possible to do your work on. Our students and faculty need the opportunity to see what this kind of equipment can do.”

Dr. Elizabeth Throop, UW–Platteville College of LAE dean who initiated the purchase, said the piano is one of the most amazing instruments she has ever seen.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility to this piano and want to make sure it has the care it needs to last for as many years as possible,” said Throop. “It’s replacing a piano from the 1950s, so properly maintained, it could take us well into this century and almost to the next.”

In January, Throop traveled to the New York factory with Dr. David Cooper, associate music professor and chair of the UW–Platteville Department of Performing and Visual Arts, and Dr. Eugene Alcalay, UW–Platteville associate professor of piano, to hand select the instrument.

“We had a choice of five,” said Alcalay, a Steinway artist since 2005 whose outstanding talent as a performer was recognized by famed composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, who became his mentor and sponsored his education at Indiana University, the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School.

“My colleagues listened as I played each one,” said Alcalay. “We narrowed it down to two fairly easily, but then it was a bit tougher because the two finalists were both wonderful. We loved them both.”

After selecting the piano with the heavier action, the mechanism that creates the sound after a key is depressed, the group had it adjusted to match the sound of the other finalist.

“I loved the sound of that one, but I loved the action of this one,” said Alcalay. “They were able to adjust the sound of this one to match the other so it makes it a bit more velvety.”