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Wichita Symphony Debuts New Steinway Grand Piano

The Wichita Symphony is adding something special to its performances: a new Steinway Concert Grand Piano.

The piano will make its public debut at this weekend’s concerts. World-renowned pianist Stephan Hough will join the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for performances of Antonin Dvorak’s Piano Concerto Saturday and Sunday.

The Steinway was built by hand at a factory in New York where pianos have been crafted since the 1870s.

The labor-intensive process took more than a year. Wood was carefully selected, shaped and dried. More than 12,000 parts were hand-applied—about 4,500 parts alone go into the action mechanism for the 88 white and black keys.

Symphony Music Director Daniel Hege was among a group who visited the factory to test and select this piano.

"We were looking for something that would be unique in that it would have to play for a very large hall, and also be something intimate for chamber music, and we felt like the piano we chose was the most versatile for that and had the greatest sound," Hege says.

Only 235 Model “D” Concert Grands — the Wichita Symphony’s model — are built each year.

Steinways are known for having high quality sound and sensitivity to touch.

Hege says the new piano will make every performance better.

"It even raises the level of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra from the standpoint when they hear such a high quality instrument they can’t help but be more inspired, and make a greater sound too," Hege says.

The Wichita Symphony had been renting two city-owned grand pianos that were about 60 years old. Wichita philanthropists and symphony patrons Helen and Russ Meyer paid about $150,000 for the Steinway as a gift for the symphony.

The Wichita Symphony is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.