The Cal Poly Pomona Music Department is making a commitment to better musical instruments with the All-Steinway School Initiative, a proposal that would replace all pianos in the university with Steinway & Son pianos.
The All-Steinway School Initiative aims to raise $2.5 million to purchase and maintain 29 Steinway & Sons pianos.
If completed, the initiative would put CPP on an elite list of 160 All-Steinway conservatories, which would create plenty of recognition for the university. CPP would be California’s first public university to have the recognition.
According to Nadia Shpachenko, award-winning pianist and associate professor of music at CPP, the initiative is extremely important for the university.
“It would be the most amazing thing to happen to this department and to this university,” said Shpachenko. “It’s really important to have good instruments: for learning, for performances, and for guest artists. It’s going to attract top performers, top artists, and, most importantly, top students.”
According to Shpachenko, Steinway pianos also produce a richer and fuller sound that cannot be found in any other pianos.
“Steinway is the gold standard in pianos,” said Shpachenko. “The warmth, the richness, and the colors you get from it—it’s just endless. It’s not just a name; it’s the quality. It’s definitely prestigious to be an All-Steinway School, but it really just is the best piano.”
Iris Levine, chair of the CPP Music Department and nationally acclaimed conductor, crafted the idea of the All-Steinway School Initiative.
“It was a dream Dr. Levine wanted to do,” said Teresa Kelly, publicist for the Music Department. “She contacted Steinway and asked, ‘How can we do something together?’ And this is what they offered.”
When the necessity of replacing pianos in the Music Department came in to question, Shpachenko made it clear that the initiative is more necessary than it sounds.
Shpachenko said the pianos the department currently has are not being properly maintained due to lack of budget. This has become a recurring problem for professors and students who wish to perform on the instruments on an educational level.
“When [students] don’t have an instrument, it’s just not possible to get fully [educated],” said Shpachenko. “They have to only hear it by ear, but they can never try it. Especially for this department, the initiative would be such a huge improvement.”
The initiative came to light in 2013 and has already received immense support from the university community.
CPP alumni Paul and Perry Tollett, two brothers who have contributed to the Southern California music scene with the invention of the Coachella Music & Arts Festival have contributed a lead donation for the initiative.
The initiative has gained a lot of support from the student body as well, especially music majors. Fifth-year Music student Prisilla Contreras Soto created a student-run organization that raises money for the initiative through various types of fundraising.
“[The initiative] brings recognition to all of us music students,” said Soto. “I want Cal Poly Pomona to be known not just for agriculture and engineering, but music too.”