The Steinway is here.
Bemidji State University’s Department of Music welcomed a brand-new Steinway Model B grand piano into the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex on Feb. 27, thanks to a generous donation from Marilyn Vogel ’71 and Leland Wilkinson.
The gift allowed the Department of Music to replace an aging Model L which had served the Bangsberg Main Theatre for six decades. The Model B cost approximately $90,000 after discounts and a trade-in credit on the Model L, a model which Steinway officially retired in 2005.
Justin Klander, an advancement officer for the BSU Foundation, worked with Vogel and Wilkinson on the gift.
“I’ve been working with the music department to find private funding for new pianos,” he said. “This will hopefully be the first of many to come.”
Bemidji native Vogel graduated from Bemidji State in 1971 with degrees in music and geography, and also has a juris doctorate from William Mitchell Law School. She is retired following a career as a general counsel in the telecommunications industry.
Wilkinson, an accomplished amateur pianist, is a statistician and computer scientist. He earned degrees from Harvard and Yale and spent time as an adjunct computer science faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dr. Stephen Carlson, professor of music and chair of the BSU music department, says the piano illustrates the university’s commitment to performance art and the Department of Music.
“We want our students and faculty to have the best possible instruments on which to practice, rehearse and perform,” he said. “This piano should serve the university for the next half century.”
Carlson said the Model B will create new opportunities for BSU’s Main Theatre to host chamber and vocal recitals and will dramatically improve the quality of the department’s regular performances, such as accompanying the Bemidji Choir and jazz band.
“It’s fabulous to see this,” he said. “It just adds a whole new dimension to our department and opens up this venue for us.”
Carlson said when the decision was made to begin replacing the department’s aging fleet of pianos, there was never a doubt that BSU would choose Steinway.
“Steinway is the crème de la crème,” he said. “That’s why 98 or 99 percent of concert halls and institutions throughout the world have Steinway instruments. You get more sustaining power from a Steinway, and a sonorous tone quality. That’s what makes a Steinway a Steinway.”
Carlson, Klander and Dr. Jim Barta, dean of BSU’s College of Arts, Education and Humanities, traveled to the Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria, N.Y., in January, where Carlson hand-selected BSU’s new piano.
“Each Steinway has its own unique personality,” he said. “This Model B has a dark, rich timbre, and I selected it knowing it will be ideal for chamber music.”
An accomplished pianist and head of piano studies in the Department of Music, Carlson made his New York debut in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, was recently honored by his doctoral institution, the University of Iowa. Along with colleagues, gave a live performance for Minnesota Public Radio in the fall of 2017.
Bemidji State’s Department of Music will debut the piano at a free March 29 recital in the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex Main Theatre. Three Bemidji State students will perform solos on the piano, and Carlson will both perform a solo and accompany Dr. Cory Renbarger, associate professor of music at BSU and coordinator of applied voice. The recital will begin at 4:30 p.m.