There’s a certain mystique about Steinway pianos: many artists swear by them and a Internet search for the words “Steinway” and “mystique” brings up thousands of hits.

But as is true with many popular notions, there is an element of truth at play. Why else would some major music schools choose to be “All Steinway Schools?”

And that list will soon include the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University.

And to kick off the $4 million “All Keyed Up” campaign to purchase more than 65 new Steinways, the College will present world-renowned pianist Jack Gibbons in a concert of the music of George Gershwin, played in the style of the composer himself.

“This faculty-led initiative, when realized, will add considerably to our inventory of Steinway acoustic pianos and will open performance opportunities for our music faculty and students,” said Dean Bernie Schultz. Fewer than half of the College’s current pianos are Steinways.

“It also will allow us to draw upon illustrious Steinway artists worldwide for master classes and performances at WVU,” Schultz said. “Steinway pianos are the standard for concert stages worldwide, with 98 percent of performing artists choosing to play Steinway exclusively.”

Tim Richards, who maintains the pianos in the College, says Steinways are the “gold standard.”

“The design and construction of the brand make it capable of unique harmonic and musical subtleties that allow musicians a wide tonal palette which to create great music,” Richards said. “While it is true that the Division of Music already has a large inventory of Steinway pianos, these are generally very much aged. Time has taken its toll and some of those desirable qualities have degraded and some of the instruments here will never be capable of producing the sound capabilities they once possessed.”

Click below to listen to an excerpt of Jack Gibbons playing "I Got Rhythm."

More than 120 schools around the world, from The Julliard School in New York City to the Rimsky Korsakov Music School in Moscow, are “All-Steinway Schools,” as are Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, among others.

Gibbons, known throughout the world for his performances in authentic Gershwin style, will present a concert at the Creative Arts Center, Sunday, March 13, to kick off this fundraising initiative.

Titled “All Keyed Up: The Music of George Gershwin,” the concert begins at 2 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre. Tickets are available through the WVU Box Office by calling 304-293-SHOW or at all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and $5 for children under age 12. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Click below to listen to a clip of Jack Gibbons playing George Gershwin's "Swanee."

The program will include Gibbons’ unique reconstructions of Gershwin’s breathtaking show-tune improvisations, with which Gershwin dazzled high society New York party-goers in the roaring ‘20s. Songs include “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Swanee” and more. The concert will culminate in Gershwin’s concert-hall masterpiece, the “Rhapsody in Blue,” reconstructed by Gibbons from Gershwin’s 1925 piano-roll.

The program will also feature examples of Gibbons’ own music, as recently premiered with great success at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Englishman Gibbons, recently appointed as artist-in-residence at David & Elkins College, is widely recognized on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the world’s finest interpreters of the piano music of Gershwin, having meticulously reconstructed the composer’s breathtaking show-tune improvisations from the original recordings.

His performances have been received with standing ovations in some of the world’s greatest concert halls, including New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and London’s Queen Elizabeth and Royal Albert Halls, and his recordings have consistently attracted rave reviews and awards.

Gibbons began performing in public at the age of 10, made his professional solo recital debut at the age of 15, his London debut at 17 and at 20 won the Newport International Pianoforte Competition.

In 1990, he gave the first of his unique, high-spirited all-Gershwin programs to a packed house and standing ovation at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

Click below to hear an exerpt of Jack Gibbons playing 'Rhapsody in Blue' a la George Gershwin.

In 1994 he debuted in New York and Washington, D.C. to tremendous acclaim, and the following year he made his debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London, performing the work with which he has become so closely associated – “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Gibbons tours regularly around the world and his relaxed and communicative performing style includes short, humorous and informative anecdotes that he tells to his audiences from the concert platform.

His award-winning modern recordings of almost five hours of original Gershwin material also recreate the composer’s unique keyboard style. Gibbons’ repertoire is built around Gershwin’s original improvisations, recorded by the composer on 78s, radio broadcasts and piano rolls in the 1920s and 1930s.

The initiative is sponsored through the WVU Foundation, in conjunction with Trombino Piano Gallerie, the regional representative for Steinway & Sons. Donors to the program may contribute to the purchase of new Steinway pianos.

For more information about contributing to the “All Keyed Up” initiative, contact the College of Creative Arts, Dean’s Office, at 304-293-4351.



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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