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USU Becomes 'All Steinway' School with Sorenson Legacy Foundation Gift

Tuesday, Jun. 12, 2012

Beverley Taylor Sorenson speaking at USU's 'All Steinway School' announcement

Beverley Taylor Sorenson spoke at the "All Steinway" celebration.

Steinway & Sons logo on a piano
Sally Coveleskie represented Steinway & Sons during a visit to USU

Sally Coveleskie, national director of institutional sales for Steinway & Sons traveled to Logan to officially welcome USU to the elite ranks of 'All Steinway' schools.

USU administrators at 'All Steinway School' announcement

Music Department Head James M. Bankhead, USU President Stan Albrecht and Caine College of the Arts Dean Craig Jessop accepted the official 'All Steinway School' designation.

The Music Department at Utah State University has joined the elite ranks of “All Steinway Schools” in a campaign that culminated with a gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.

With the Sorenson Legacy Foundation gift, in combination with the vision and support of additional earlier donors, USU recently acquired 44 new Steinway and Steinway-designed pianos, upgrading and replacing all pianos in its music department.

The Department of Music includes the Piano Program, led by USU’s Juilliard-trained pianist and longtime professor Gary Amano.

“This gift has an immediate and positive impact at Utah State University, not only in the Piano Program but throughout the entire department,” Amano said. “Thanks to the support of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and others, the pianos we now have available for students and faculty are as good, or better, than those found anywhere.”

The campaign to achieve “All Steinway” status was headed by Dennis Hirst, a member of the piano faculty and director of the Wassermann Festival. To attain that status, 90 percent of pianos in a program must be Steinway designed and built, he said.

“The path to this designation has been a lengthy one,” Hirst said. “Since 1995, nearly $500,000 has been gifted to USU to restore and replace pianos, laying the foundation for USU to become an ‘All Steinway School.’ The generous Sorenson Legacy Foundation gift capped the process.”

The Sorenson Legacy Foundation has a tradition of supporting education and the arts, and the gift to the Caine College of the Arts continues this legacy. The foundation previously supported an arts education endowment at USU through a major gift.

“Children need the arts, and Utah State University plays a major role in providing arts education and interaction opportunities for young people,” said philanthropist and arts education advocate Beverley Taylor Sorenson. “This gift to Utah State brings music into the lives of many. I am gratified knowing that it will benefit students for generations.”

USU’s All Steinway designation was unveiled at an event hosted by USU President Stan Albrecht and Caine College of the Arts Dean Craig Jessop, a celebration that opened the 2012 Wassermann Festival. Sorenson attended the announcement that included performances by students — past and present — from USU’s Piano Program.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, and especially Beverley, for their generosity,” Jessop said. “This gift propels our mission of achieving excellence in all we do.”

For piano aficionados, Steinway pianos are referred to by model designations determined by size. USU obtained five models (“S,” “M,” “A,” “B” and “D”) that range from a 5 foot 1 inch model to a 9-foot model. The new pianos have been placed in student practice rooms and teaching studios, as well as in departmental classrooms, faculty studios and, finally, performance spaces.

The tradition of Steinway pianos at USU goes back to 1949 when the first concert grand was purchased. However, that piano began its musical life much earlier. Built in 1904, it spent its first 45 years on the concert stages in New York City before being refurbished prior to shipment to Logan, Utah, and the Utah State Agricultural College Jan. 18, 1949. After nearly 60 years of service on campus, the piano needed significant restoration that, thanks to the support of several donors, is now complete. The nearly 110-year-old piano is still in service and is used in the choir room as a performance piano, an example of the quality and longevity of the Steinway instrument.

“The tremendous improvement in our piano inventory through this gift is impossible to quantify,” said Mike Bankhead, head of USU’s Department of Music. “Every music student benefits by having classrooms and practice rooms with excellent instruments, and the community as a whole benefits by having world-class instruments in our performance venues.”

The Steinway pianos acquired, especially the performance pianos, were selected by members of the USU piano faculty in New York City. Every Steinway piano is custom built.

“We are pleased with our designation as an All Steinway School and the new pianos,” Amano said. “Our students are aware they have access to some of the best instruments in the business.”

The All Steinway announcement opened the Wassermann Festival, one of the premier activities provided by the Piano Program at USU. The festival features concert pianists of the first rank in solo recitals, including, in past years, a number of Van Cliburn Competition winners. Additionally, it provides master classes and workshops for promising piano students. The 2012 sessions were the first to take advantage of the All Steinway designation.

“The university is indebted to many who have supported our arts programs through the years,” said Utah State University President Stan Albrecht. “The latest gift by the Sorenson Legacy Foundation has elevated our music program to an even higher level and we say thank you. Utah State University has a proud artistic heritage and a bright future.”

Related links:

Contact: Dennis Hirst, USU Piano Program, (435) 797-3257,

Contact: Jacob Moon, Sorenson Legacy Foundation Public Relations, (801) 461-9797,

Writer: Patrick Williams, USU Public Relations and Marketing, (435) 797-1354,

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