Arrival of new Steinway as part of ongoing investment plan for St Mary’s Music School

By May 17, 2019

The joy of learning music and the personal development of talented young pianists is vividly demonstrated in a new short film from Scotland’s national music school.

Made by Stroma Films and entitled Study at Scotland’s national music school, the film tells the story of the School’s expanding investment in its keyboard department with a very special addition from the world famous Steinway & Sons factory in Hamburg, Germany.

The film follows the journey of renowned international pianist Steven Osborne, a former pupil of St Mary’s Music School, who travelled to Hamburg with John Cameron, the School’s Head of Keyboard to select a grand piano to add to the existing fleet of 35 instruments. It also introduces some of the pupils and teaching faculty.

John Cameron said:

“Our challenge was to choose the best model for the School’s needs from a selection of five Model B’s. On arrival in Hamburg we met with Keith Glazebrook of Steinway & Sons, London who started by taking us on a tour of the factory so we could see the various stages in the build process, from the seasoning sheds, all the way through to final finishing and ‘playing-in’ rooms. What struck me most was the forensic attention to the smallest of details and the huge responsibility given to each craftsperson involved. Very little has changed on the factory floor over the last 150 or so years and much of the original tooling is still used. With each instrument taking 13 months of hand-crafting by a small group of technicians, it’s only natural that each piano emerges with its own character.”

Steinway & Sons is the market leader in providing pianos for the world’s concert halls, colleges, universities and conservatories the world over. As the instruments that pupils will go on to use throughout their careers the investment is an important one for the School and is part of an ongoing development and growth strategy.

John Cameron continued:

“We needed to ensure that the model we selected would not only be suitable for the setting of our current home at St Mary’s Music School, but also that, should the planned move to the Royal High School proceed, the ‘bigger’ sound of the chosen instrument would be well suited to the acoustics of one of the two 100-seater large recital rooms. I think we have made an excellent choice. We now have an instrument that will be used and appreciated by, not only the School’s pianists and teachers, but by everyone here at St Mary’s Music School, from the youngest pupils at our Saturday Music Classes to our most senior instrumentalists, from our most shy auditionees to the most established visiting artists.”

In the second part of the short film, concert pianist and piano teacher Elena Fischer-Dieskau,  gives an insight into the approach and ethos behind studying keyboard at the School.

She said:

“Working with young people with such huge talent and promise is really exciting and it is our job to develop their potential in way that nurtures and supports every child.  Having the best instruments available is part of that and so we are really delighted at the arrival of the new Steinway to add to our existing fleet.”

The instrument the new piano replaces will be reconditioned and continue to play an active part in the life of the School. Over its 35 years in the spotlight, thousands of pupils have performed either on, or alongside it, in concerts and Masterclasses. The piano has seen countless performances by exceptional teachers and visiting artists over the years.

To enable the purchase of the Model B Steinway, over £100,000 was raised through a match- funded giving campaign which incorporated a special event sponsored by School Director Kat Heathcote and her husband Iain Macneil, Trustees of Witherby Publishing Group Charitable Trust.

The additional income raised is being used to support the School’s Bursary Fund.

Dr Kenneth Taylor, Head Teacher said:

“The vast majority of our pupils at St Mary’s Music School receive financial support, both from the Scottish Government Aided Places Scheme and our own Bursary Fund. The only criteria for entry to the School is musical ability and potential so the generosity of our donors and supporters is fundamental to help support our mission of access to excellence for every child. The new Steinway Model B embodies this mission and will greatly enhance the teaching of our talented pupils.”

Forthcoming initiatives spearheaded by St Mary’s Music School are a free percussion masterclass with Colin Currie described as ‘the world’s finest and most daring percussionist’ by the Spectator. The masterclass is being held on the morning of May 27th in partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is free to young percussionists, teachers and enthusiasts. For information and to book tickets visit stmarysmusicschool.co.uk/events

In the summer pianists age 13 to 19, at Grade 6 and above are invited to take part in a residential Piano Summer School to be held at the St Mary’s Music School. The Piano Summer School takes place 4th to 9th August and the deadline for entries is May 20th. More information is available at https://www.stmarysmusicschool.co.uk/study/piano-summer-schools/

Link to the film: https://vimeo.com/328169744