The Ivories Tower


The latest addition to the School of Music goes by the name of ‘Steinway’


An old friend of the School of Music is retiring after decades of service to the university community. This time, we’re not talking about Robert Holquist, the longtime director of choral activities stepping down from behind the podium this year, or Bob Buckner ’67, who is hanging up his marching shoes after leading the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band to the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The retiree in question is an older Steinway model that has been providing musical accompaniment for music faculty, student and ensemble recitals for the past 34 years. Taking its place on stage is a recently obtained instrument made by acclaimed manufacturer Steinway & Sons, widely regarded for crafting the finest pianos in the world. The 9-foot “D” concert grand piano is the first new piano of any kind for the School of Music in more than 23 years, said P. Bradley Ulrich, professor of music.

“We are hoping this will be the first of many new pianos in the School of Music as we hope to someday become the first ‘All-Steinway School’ in the University of North Carolina system. This would truly be a mark of distinction,” said Ulrich. As the name implies, institutions are designated as All-Steinway Schools for using only pianos designed by Steinway & Sons, from the practice room to the recital hall. The designation would entail replacing approximately 50 pianos with Steinway or models from the Steinway line.

The piano was scheduled to give its concert debut performance this winter in a concert titled “Steinway Our Way,” featuring a variety of musical styles with WCU faculty pianists. Proceeds from ticket sales from the concert and contributions from friends of the School of Music go toward the newly established Steinway Piano Fund. The fund is designed help the School of Music in its goal of becoming an All-Steinway School, said Robert Kehrberg, dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. “Our faculty and students provide more than 250 cultural events annually through concerts, master classes and engagement activities within the communities they serve, and they deserve the finest instrument available,” Kehrberg said.  “The faculty have international professional credentials and work as performing artists within the region, across the state and nationally. They are the finest musicians I have ever worked with.”

Click here and be among the first to hear WCU’s new Steinway grand piano.

To learn how to contribute to the Steinway Piano Fund, contact Meg White, director of development, at 828.227.3343 or