St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh celebrated the arrival of a new Steinway Model B at an evening event on 28 February 2019, marking the culmination of a £100,000 match-funded giving campaign. The new instrument will be used by pupils, staff and visiting musicians in recitals, masterclasses, rehearsals, coaching and lessons.
John Cameron, head of keyboard, described how he and the celebrated concert pianist Steven Osborne, a former pupil of the school, set off on a grey day in November to travel to the Steinway factory in Germany. As well as playing on the stages of many world-famous concert halls, Osborne regularly chooses pianos for concerts and recordings and has an exceptional ‘ear’ for sonority.
13 months of hand crafting
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.’
‘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.’