For being such an elegant instrument, a Steinway & Sons baby grand piano involves a process of delivery, placement and assembly that’s anything but elegant.
Despite all of the strapping, ratcheting, sweating and even grunting, the level of joy and excitement among the staff at the Community Performance Center of the Arts Council of York County was palpable Wednesday as two men delivered the beauty of an instrument.
“This is kind of like giving birth,” joked Mary Lynn Norton (pictured above), artistic director and CPC facilities manager, who is among those who have been working to acquire the piano for months.
In April 2014, the staff decided to make the piano acquisition a reality, and set out to secure funding and then find the right piano.
“We’ve been waiting so long for this,” said Erica Welzenbach, Norton’s assistant.
Prior to the arrival of the Steinway, the CPC had a 100-year-old Chickering & Sons baby grand piano, that was donated to the arts council. While the staff was fond of the Chickering, it was becoming hard to maintain, said Melanie Cooper, arts council marketing coordinator.
Additionally, many artists now stipulate in their contracts that they need a high-quality piano, like a Steinway or a Baldwin, Norton said.
As for the old Chickering, Mark Love with Steinway Piano Gallery of Charlotte is taking it and looking for a new home for it, preferably with someone who will be able to restore it, Norton said.
In the past, the arts council has had to rent pianos, which can cost around $1,500 per rental. Now, they have one to call their own.
“Things always work out like they’re supposed to,” Norton said.
The Steinway, a 5’1 Essex model, cost about $11,000 and was purchased with assistance from the South Carolina Arts Commission; Morton & Gettys, a law firm in Rock Hill; and Love with Steinway Piano Gallery.
“It’s a Steinway,” Welzenbach said. “You can’t put a price on that.”
Steinway & Sons has long been recognized as the industry standard in pianos. Henry Steinway founded the company in 1853.
The piano arrived in time for the arts council, which has three classical concerts scheduled this year that will require the instrument, Cooper said. And now that the news of the new piano has gotten out, the CPC has already received calls from area piano teachers who want to schedule their recitals at the CPC, Norton said.
For now, the Steinway will sit, looking lovely, on stage at the CPC, but no one can play it just yet. The piano has to be “climatized” and adapt to its new temperature and moisture level before it can be played.
The first official performance with the piano will take place Jan. 17, where the accompanist for soprano Lori Hicks will get to tickle the ivories. But Norton said she and the other staff won’t be able to wait quite that long to hear the first notes of the Steinway.
As soon as its properly climatized, she said, she will definitely play a few notes to fully appreciate the newest addition to the arts council family.