• 509-327-4266

Jesse Carmichael from Maroon 5 Interview

ROCK & BACH

AN INTERVIEW WITH JESSE CARMICHAEL, STEINWAY OWNER & KEYBOARDIST FOR MAROON 5

 

Best known as the multi-instrumentalist for the pop rock group Maroon 5, Jesse Carmichael surprised many when he took a two-year sabbatical from the wildly popular, multi-Grammy–winning group in 2012 to pursue studies of music and the healing arts. Carmichael spoke to Steinway & Sons about his passions and his instrument.
WHY WERE YOU DRAWN TO MUSIC?
I don’t even have a memory of choosing to go into music. I just know that it’s been with me since I was a kid. Mozart and Bach were big influences when I was little, and that’s when I started playing piano. Then I switched to guitar all throughout high school and then came back to the piano afterwards. Now I do both in my band, and I love both.

WHAT DREW YOU TO PIANO?
When I was around six or seven years old, my dad got me a keyboard. I would sit and play on it and maybe do things like just play all the black keys and enjoy the sound of that particular F-sharp pentatonic world. I loved listening to music by Mozart and Bach. I remember the first prelude from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, that was one of the first things I ever learned how to play.

IS MUSIC STILL A PART OF HOW YOU RELATE TO THE WORLD AT LARGE?
It’s such a deep part of how I experience the world. I think about the sounds I hear as I’m going throughout my day, and I almost always subconsciously organize them into sounds occurring in time. A car will pass by, and I’ll hear the pitch of it compared to the people talking next to me on the street and the sound of a phone ringing. I don’t have perfect pitch, but they all blend together in a nice way. I’m very sensitive to overlapping sounds. Luckily I’ve been getting more into atonal music lately.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO INTERACT WITH THE STEINWAY?
It’s like picking up a really well-made tennis racket — your game immediately improves. Playing a Steinway makes me feel like a better piano player. For some reason I can just respond to the action in a way that makes me not think about the technical side of things and just be able to lose myself in the sound.WHEN YOU’RE ABLE TO LET GO OF THE TECHNICAL SIDE AND LOSE YOURSELF IN THE SOUND, WHAT DOES THAT UNLEASH?
The best feeling I can have as a musician is to catch, for just a split second, the realization that I haven’t been doing the music playing: it’s just been happening. I’ve been experiencing it, almost out-of-body. I know that there’s a part of my brain that is controlling my hands, but those moments where I feel completely just carried along by the music — those are the moments that I really live for.DO YOU HAVE ANY MEMORIES OF THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU REALLY DISAPPEARED INTO PLAYING?
I remember always going into sort of like a meditative state when I would play piano. It’s always something that clears my mind and takes me away from thinking into just experiencing the sound of the instrument. As a kid, I would do that a lot, and still do, all the time! It’s such a nice feeling to be able get out of my head, to stop the thoughts from happening and just enjoy the sound of an instrument that’s as amazing as the Steinway — and lose myself in the tones that come out of it. Sometimes it’s sort of like going into a trance when I sit down and play. It clears my mind, and I can focus on the sound coming out of the piano. The sound that comes out of the Steinway is truly inspiring.

WHAT IS THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING IN THAT MUSIC STATE?
The feeling when music surrounds me and takes over and I have that kind of out of body experience, that’s very comfortable. There’s something about the physicality of the harmonies that come out of any instrument, the way that they can be felt all throughout your body. It’s just very soothing. It’s like an extension of this whole idea that everything has a vibration to it. Everything’s constantly moving in our whole world. For me, sound is an embodied form of that idea. You can experience it tangibly. In that sense it connects me to this deeper undercurrent of the whole universe, which sounds lofty and wild, but it’s true that the universe is vibrating. It’s nice to be able to really play around with those vibrations on an instrument like the Steinway.


Those moments where I feel completely just carried along by the music — those are the moments that I really live for.”


WHY DO YOU PREFER TO PLAY ON A STEINWAY?
I think that if there’s a problem with a tuning on an instrument or one of the keys sticks it can be very distracting. To have all of those things taken care of by a quality-built instrument is really freeing. There’s a subtle difference between a specific type of touch or a specific type of articulation on any instrument, and that could be the difference between conveying the emotion you want to convey or missing the mark. I remember switching to a Steinway after the pianos that I’d been playing before and just how noticeable it was that the quality of this instrument was so impressive and so perfect. Playing an instrument that’s as well-made as this Steinway makes it easier to tap into the little nuances that lead me down the path of becoming a better musician.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WERE GOING TO GET A STEINWAY?
It started when I watched the documentary Note by Note about the making of a Steinway piano. Then I decided to go take a tour of the factory in New York, and they were very nice. They took my mom, me, and a friend of mine out to look at every step of the piano-making process. I got to meet the people who did it. I got to help them bend one of the outside rims of the piano, turning some cranks on it. That was really cool.

I started to play pianos when I was out there at the factory, and I was just looking for a connection with a piano that would give me that intangible feeling of knowing this is the one that you want to have in your home. I played probably about twenty different pianos in New York and Los Angeles. Out in Pasadena I found one.

I had finally narrowed my choices down to a couple pianos out at the Pasadena showroom. I remember I was playing two of them, side by side, and they were off just by one serial from each other, so they were back to back in production. They were totally different. One was very bright, and one was very warm. I chose the warmer one because it just seemed like it would fit in my house and my personality.

WHY DOES THAT FIT YOUR HOUSE AND YOUR PERSONALITY?
I’m very sensitive, and so I don’t like harsh things or things that are even further along on the spectrum towards bright. They tend to make my nerves react in a way that the warm pianos don’t. The warm pianos are very soothing. I was looking for something intangible in the pianos I was trying out. I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be until I heard it. I found it with the piano I eventually ended up buying.TELL ME ABOUT THE DAY YOU BROUGHT YOUR STEINWAY HOME.
That was a great day. I took a bunch of photographs of the guys who were wheeling it in on the dollies and put it together in a little stop-motion movie. They brought it in, wrapped up in blankets like a beautiful Christmas present. We cleared a path from the front door into the living room and dining room areas. I went out with them, and we brought it off the truck and put it onto the dolly and wheeled it in. Then they unwrapped it and attached the legs and did their amazing process of flipping it upright onto its feet, and they brought in the piano bench. The first chord I played was just a C-Major triad chord right in the middle.GOING FORWARD, WAS IT A GETTING-TO-KNOW-YOU PROCESS WITH THE INSTRUMENT?
I’d already played it a lot at the Pasadena showroom. At that time, I remember I was playing a couple pieces that I had written and the ending of Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, the “moderato like a prayer” section. I loved the way that chords rang out on this piano.

HOW DOES THE STEINWAY FIT INTO YOUR HOME?
I feel like it’s really integrated into my home. I’ve got electrical equipment that I play at the same time as I play the piano, sometimes looping sounds on a pedal. It fits into my dining room so that I have one half dedicated to food and the other half dedicated to music. It’s surrounded by works of art from friends of mine. I’ve got a cabinet behind me with incredible sheet music from the great masters. It’s just very inspiring to have this instrument in my home.

TALK TO ME ABOUT BEING ON TOUR. HOW DOES IT JUXTAPOSE WITH YOUR TIME AT HOME?
Juxtaposition is a good word, because my life at home is very oriented around the idea of a nurturing, grounded, stable, creative environment. Everything on the road is a lot more kinetic and spontaneous, and we’re in a different city every day. It’s very temporary. We bring our stuff into our hotel rooms and spend the night and pack it up in the morning and leave. We have these peak experiences every night with huge crowds of people, and then we’re gone from that city. I like to come home and decompress with that sort of very rooted vibe.

The Steinway is very heavy and is not practical to travel around with. So just by its very nature, the massing of it is very grounding, the color, tone. When I am home after all of that travel, and I sit down and I play, I feel the vibration coming from the piano through my body and into the house, it kind of physically connects me back to being home.

WHAT DO YOU TRY TO DO DURING YOUR TIME BETWEEN TOURS?
I think about each chunk of time in between tours as a mini-sabbatical from the professional world of playing music for fans. It’s the time for me to go deeper into music, and it’s such a lifelong pursuit. I just treat every month that we have off as a training session, basically, for me to play myself deeper into music. I study with different teachers, and I’m taking orchestration lessons and piano and guitar lessons and tabla lessons and voice lessons. I structure my day almost like I’m at a school with specific times to work on different things, and then I have the free time to take what I’ve learned with those experiments and teachers and let it infuse its way into something that comes out of me naturally.


The sound that comes out of the Steinway is truly inspiring.


HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT STUDYING?
I’m pretty methodical in terms of trying to break everything down to small modules. For the piano, I’ll work on specific types of technique. Touch and articulation. Then I’ll work on sight reading and notation. Then I’ll work on improvisation and songwriting and then work on repertoire with a new piece of sheet music. The same thing with guitar, and with the electronic recording world, and putting my studio together, and learning the technical side of engineering, microphones and outboard gear: there are a thousand different things that I’m pursuing right now. They’re all super fun, and I just feel so lucky to be able to spend my time learning about the things that I love.

ARE YOU STUDYING COMPOSERS IN AN EFFORT TO LOOK AT MUSIC OVER TIME?
With my orchestration teacher we’ve been real systematic in terms of looking back through the thread of composers passing along their inspiration to other composers. We treat Bach as the foundation for modern music in our studies, and then moving forward through time to Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, and then Stravinsky. Before that, around Wagner time, we’ve got Debussy and Ravel. Just looking at all the threads, and who started to branch out, Wagner and Liszt, into the world of atonality. Then Schoenberg comes along, and Stravinsky and Schoenberg have their split into tonal and atonal. Stravinsky’s doing wild things with polyrhythm and polytonality. Gustav Mahler’s a big hero of mine, and I love Philip Glass and Steve Reich and the whole world of hypnotic, minimalist music. It’s very inspiring to me. Then the film composers came along, because that’s what I see as a modern day extension of Mahler and Wagner. People like John Williams and Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer. These guys are my modern-day composer heroes.

Courtesy of Steinway.com: http://steinway.com/community/owners/jesse-carmichael

 

Steinway Onyx Duet Piano!

The dynamic Onyx Duet Steinway piano has a dual personality, with an all-ebony finish on the exterior and stunning Macassar Ebony—also known as French Rosewood—on the underside of the lid and inner rim. The effect is pure East Indian elegance, with fine grain markings juxtaposed against a classic ebony finish.

 

Request more information today! 509-327-4266

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Jeanne Bourgeois Swanson – FREE Concert – May 30th

 

Steinway Piano Gallery
13418 E. Nora Ave. Spokane, WA 99216

Saturday – May 30, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

Limited Seating
RSVP HERE

Please print and bring your ticket with you on the night of the concert.

 

Jeanne Bourgeois SwansonJeanne Bourgeois Swanson has been Assistant Concertmaster with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra since 2008.  She has a doctorate in violin performance from the Eastman School of Music, a masters from Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.  Her teachers include Charles Castleman, Almita and Roland Vamos and Kurt Sassmannshaus.  Jeanne has held orchestral positions with the Syracuse Symphony, Sarasota Opera, Utah Festival Opera, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.  She was Associate Concertmaster of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.  As a soloist, she has performed with Spokane Symphony Orchestra, Starling Chamber Orchestra (Cincinnati), as well as the West Suburban Symphony Orchestra (Chicago).  She has taught at Whitworth University, is currently on faculty of Washington State University String Camp and also maintains a private violin studio in Spokane.

Marilyn BourgeoisMarilyn Bourgeois is a faculty member at South Suburban College, South Holland, IL, teaching piano and serving as staff accompanist. She holds a B.F.A. degree from Stephens College and a M.M. degree with high distinction from Indiana University, where she was an Associate Instructor of Piano.  Her teachers have included David Milliken and Ania Dorfmann at Stephens College, Jorge Bolet at Indiana University, William Masselos at the Aspen Summer Music Festival, and Jeanne-Marie Darre at the Academie Internationale d’Ete, Nice, France.  Ms. Bourgeois is symphony pianist of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and has performed in numerous chamber ensembles throughout the Midwest.  She frequently appears as a performer for the Lakeview Musical Society of Chicago, of which she is a member.

For information, call Steinway Piano Gallery @ (509) 32-PIANO (327-4266) or send e-mail to joyce@steinwayspokane.com .

Harry Connick Jr. – Steinway Artist in Concert

Monday, July 20 @ 7:30
INB Performing Arts Center
334 W Spokane Falls Blvd
Spokane, WA 99201

Purchase tickets online…

 

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Following a successful winter tour and his second season as a judge on American Idol, Harry Connick, Jr. announced today a 20+ city summer concert tour including a stop at the INB Performing Arts Center on Monday, July 20!

The show will feature music from Connick’s vast musical catalog, including songs from his most recent releases “Smokey Mary” and “Every Man Should Know.” To date, Connick has released 29 albums, won three Grammy Awards and two Emmy Awards, and garnered sales of 28 million albums.

With “Every Man Should Know,” Connick triumphs once again, with a depth of feeling that signals another milestone for one of the music world’s most multi-faceted artists. Critics have been quick to agree with People Magazine calling it “impressive,” and the Boston Globe saying the album features “his most thoughtful and personal songs to date” and says its “an album that every Harry Connick, Jr. fan should own.”

Connick recently returned for a second year as judge on American Idol, with season 14 of the show currently airing on FOX. Since his addition to the judges’ panel, critics and fans alike have praised Connick’s contributions to the show, with Variety proclaiming that Connick “brings fun back to American Idol,” and Entertainment Weekly raving that he brings a “frank honesty but also lighthearted energy” to the show, “offering thoughtful critiques” resulting in a “fun, rollicking viewing experience.” Regarding his debut as a judge in season 13, USA Today stated that “Connick deserves most of the praise for what promises to be a creative turnaround for Idol… While Connick can be as tough as he needs to be, he’s also charming, engaging and, when he wants to be, hysterically funny.”

Don’t miss Harry Connick, Jr. live at the INB Performing Arts Center on Monday, July 20!

Reserved seat tickets are $125.00, $85.00, $69.00 and $50.00 go on-sale Thursday, April 16 at 10:00am at all TicketsWest outlets, online at TicketsWest.com or charge by phone at 800-325-SEAT!

Bruce Hornsby – Steinway Artist in Concert

Bruce Hornsby (Steinway Artist) and The Noisemakers

Date: Monday, July 20, 2015

(509) 227-7638

901 W Sprague Ave., Spokane, WA 99201

Showtime: 7:30 pm | Doors open at 6:30pm

Almost three decades after winning a Grammy for Best New Artist and launching one of contemporary music’s most diverse careers, Bruce Hornsby still makes joyful noise as he discovers clever and expansive ways to chronicle dynamic musical snapshots of his often generously collaborative journey.

Nothing better illustrates this than Hornsby’s communion with his longtime band, the Noisemakers.  And nothing catches that connection with more daring fluency than a couple of live collections released eleven years apart; 2011’s Bride of the Noisemakers, a set of concert recordings from 2007 to 2009, and 2000‘s Here Come the Noisemakers, which initially unveiled Hornsby and his band’s free-wheeling live approaches to the Virginia-born pianist and composer’s memorable songs.

Tapping into many of the genres that have influenced Hornsby’s music over the years—pop, jazz, bluegrass, country and modern classical—these collections feature songs from previous releases such as Big Swing Face(2002), Halcyon Days (2004), and Levitate (2009) — as well as from Camp Meeting (2007), which featured bassist Christian McBride and drummer Jack DeJohnette, plus Hornsby’s acclaimed early releases such as Scenes From The Southside (1988), Hothouse (1995), and Spirit Trail (1998).

The Noisemakers are bassist J.V. Collier, a twenty-year veteran of the band, as well as keyboardist/organist John “JT” Thomas and drummer Sonny Emory, who have played with Hornsby twenty-four and twelve years respectively.  Summer 2014 marks the arrival of two new Noisemakers — fiddle/mandolin player Ross Holmes and guitarist Gibb Droll — as well as the departures of longtime members Bobby Read and Doug Derryberry. Holmes currently fiddles for Mumford and Sons, has played with hosts of Nashville titans as diverse as Ricky Skaggs and the Dixie Chicks, and has performed with symphonies in the United States and Europe.  Droll has played guitar on various projects involving Keller Williams, Kevin Kinney, and Brandi Carlile; he is also a composer, and painter.

943-bruce-hornsby-and-the-noisemakers (1)“I think the guys in the Noisemakers like the gig because there’s never a dull moment and we attempt to keep the spontaneity factor high,” Hornsby says.  “The idea always is, ‘Watch Bruce.’  I’m a fairly loose leader and I don’t like to rehearse.  We mostly just ride around the country on a bus and laugh a lot.  Hopefully you can hear that loose spirit in our shows.”

Times and band members change, and Hornsby knows it.  Yet for all his forward thinking he remembers the past.  “As the years go by and my music evolves, I’ve been increasingly interested in hearing some new sounds in my band,” he says.  “As I get older, I’ve become more of a folkie than a jazzer, and I’ve felt the need to move the music accordingly.”

“Bobby Read is one of the greatest musicians I know. I’ve loved playing with him, and hope to always have opportunities to work with him. He was with us for twenty years, and I’m so grateful for his great taste, good humor, soul, and musicianship during his long tenure.”

“When I released the Spirit Trail album in 1998, I needed to find a guitar player who could play John Leventhal’s great orchestral guitar parts that enhanced that music so much.  Doug Derryberry filled that bill and much more, with his guitar, strong vocals, and mandolin playing giving us what we needed for fifteen years.  He has been the oracle of the band; we all have gone to Doug for help in remembering old parts, chords, lyrics and endings through the years.  Thanks go out to both of these great people for their efforts and contributions adding so much to our sound for many years.”

For all his talents as a singer, bandleader and pianist with an instantly identifiable sound, Hornsby is a songwriter at heart committed to portraying his songs in changing ways that allow them to expand organically.  This approach was further developed by Hornsby’s time with The Grateful Dead when he joined the legendary band between 1990 and 1995 for over a hundred shows.  In the Dead’s vibrant tradition of loosely blending improvised folk and blues Hornsby found a shared musical aesthetic.

In recent years, he has pushed his artistic limits, working with bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs, The Bruce Hornsby Trio, and jazz legend Charlie Haden. Hornsby has also scored a number of projects for filmmaker Spike Lee including the documentary Kobe Doin’ Work (2009), Red Hook Summer

(2012), and the upcoming Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Hornsby has contributed to all-star collections that pay tributes to Fats Domino, The Band and in 2014, Jackson Browne.  A music graduate of University of Miami, Hornsby also has partnered with its Frost School of Music to establish the Creative American Music Program, a curriculum designed to develop the creative skills of talented young artist/songwriters by immersing them in the many traditions that form the foundations of modern American songwriting.

“In the spirit of musical evolution, I’m always trying to keep my band on their toes,” Hornsby says.  “I was a sideman once and I know only too well how playing the same thing the same way night after night can become a dismal prison.”  That recognition lay behind the 2006 release of Hornsby’s box set Intersections (1985-2005), which groups his long career into three different categories: “Top 90 Time;” “Solo Piano, Tribute Records, Country-Bluegrass, Movie Scores;” and “By Request (Favorites and Best Songs).”

The classifications illuminate Hornsby’s bedrock notions about his music: He wants to ensure that even his most familiar pop songs avoid the frozen-in-time quality of museum pieces.  A third of the music on Intersections previously is unreleased, and most of the best-known tracks appear in live versions. The set also features “Song H,” a composition that was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental.

Still, Intersections tells only a part of Hornsby’s extraordinary musical story. His three Grammy wins typify the diversity of his first decade of recording: Best New Artist as leader of Bruce Hornsby and the Range; Best Bluegrass Recording for a version of “The Valley Road” that appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken Volume II; and a shared award with Branford Marsalis in 1993 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for “Barcelona Mona,” a song for the 1992 Olympic Games.

The commercial successes and creative achievements of Hornsby’s superstar collaborations — including many sampled passages chosen by hip-hop artists — verify Hornsby’s fusion of wide appeal and musical adventure. Consider: His albums have sold over 11 million copies worldwide.

The title cut from The Way It Is was the most played song on American radio in 1987, winning the ASCAP Song of the Year award.  Harbor Lights won the 1994 of Downbeat Reader’s Poll Beyond Album of the Year — a citation given to music from any genre apart from jazz or blues.

The late Tupac Shakur, working with Hornsby, fashioned a new song over “The Way It Is” adding new lyrics and calling the result “Changes.”  The track was an international hit and sold fourteen million copies.

Over the years, Hornsby has played on over a hundred records, including albums by Bob Dylan, Don Henley, the Grateful Dead, Bob Seger, Crosby Stills and Nash, Stevie Nicks, Cowboy Junkies, Squeeze, Chaka Khan, Liquid Jesus, Bonnie Raitt, Chris Whitley, Shawn Colvin, Bela Fleck, Clint Black, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Randy Scruggs, and Willie Nelson.  Hornsby contributed end-title songs for the Spike Lee films Clockers and Bamboozled.

Hornsby has participated in memorable events: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1995 opening concert, Farm Aid IV and VI, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival, Bonnaroo, and Woodstock II and III.  An avid sports fan, Hornsby — solo and with Branford Marsalis — has performed the National Anthem for many major events including the NBA All-Star game, four NBA finals, and the 1997 World Series Game 5.

His work appears on the soundtrack to Ken Burns Baseball.  “I can be a slow learner,” Hornsby says,  “and sometimes it takes me a while to arrive at the most soulful way to play and sing one of my songs — or anyone’s song, for that matter.  Our approach to playing allows songs to grow, evolve and change through the years.  That’s where the improvisatory mindset has led us.”

It is a singularly rich place, a place for stirring noise-making.

 

 

162nd Anniversary of the formation of Steinway & Sons

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March 5, 2015

Dear Steinway Dealer,

As you likely know, today is the 162nd anniversary of the formation of Steinway & Sons.

Steinway&SonsFounderFounded by Henry E. Steinway with a goal of building the best piano possible, Steinway & Sons revolutionized the piano through a culture of innovation and an undying pursuit of perfection. Henry E. Steinway and his sons were not only great piano builders, but smart businessmen. They recognized early on that by working closely with the best pianists in the world, they would determine the best path to piano excellence. In essence, they were doing high level Market Research long before the phrase had actually been coined.Steinway&SonsPiano1

When the Steinway family incorporated innovations based on feedback from the world’s finest pianists into their designs, in combination with great craftsmanship, they soon were recognized as the makers of the world’s finest pianos. This recognition also came – in the form of endorsements and associations – from the great pianists of the day. Legends just as Liszt, Paderewski, Rubinstein and many others all recognized that the best piano to turn the music in their heads into the music we hear was a Steinway piano – and soon the term “Steinway Artist” was born.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the Steinway family – both for coming together to form this great company on this day in 1853 and for leaving a legacy of innovation and excellence in craftsmanship. In my time with Steinway & Sons, I have seen the quality of our pianos improve with each passing year and I’m proud to say that innovation at Steinway is alive and well.

Whether in the factory, where continuous improvement is a mantra and technology is incorporated anywhere it can improve the piano-building process or on the showroom floor where Steinway & Sons leads the acoustic piano industry with beautiful Limited Edition pianos such as the Arabesque and Imagine and trend-setting modern pianos such as the Sterling and Pops, innovation is a way of life at Steinway.

Sterling Steinway Full Piano wo Bench IMG_1294 A     Lennon Imagine - Sterling - Power to the People - Full Instrument     redpops

I have no doubt that we will continue to see continued innovation from Steinway & Sons in the coming years, especially in areas such as Music Technology where we have been making significant investments. I am confident that that the team at Steinway will be able caretakers of this great legacy that has been passed on to us, and which we can pass on to the next generation.

With best regards,

Steinway&SonsSig
Ron Losby President Steinway & Sons – Americas

Steinway Bids Farewell To Its Historic Hall

The rotunda at the historic Steinway Hall in Manhattan. The building will be torn down to build luxury condominiums.

The rotunda at the historic Steinway Hall in Manhattan. The building will be torn down to build luxury condominiums.

Steinway & Sons

New York is saying goodbye to another historic building. Steinway Hall, the main showroom for Steinway & Sons pianos, will be moving to a new location, leaving its home of almost 90 years on 57th Street near Carnegie Hall. The first floor has been designated a landmark and will be preserved, while the rest of the building will be torn down to build high-rise luxury condominiums.

Steinway Hall was, quite literally, the shop window for Steinway pianos in New York City. When it was built in 1925, the architects — who also designed Grand Central Terminal — created a large curved window to allow pedestrians to look inside, according to Ron Losby, president of Steinway & Sons for the Americas.

“And that was quite high-tech at the time,” Losby says, “because when anybody was walking down 57th Street, when they looked in the window, there was never any glare and they could see every piano as beautifully as if they were standing right in front of it.”

When potential customers walked inside, they were greeted by a grand Beaux Arts rotunda with a crystal chandelier, imported Italian marble, frescoes on the ceiling and painted portraits on the wall. Portraits and busts are everywhere, including Anton Rubinstein, Franz Liszt and, more recently, “Mr. Billy Joel.”

But the real action is downstairs.

“Behind this very unassuming metal door that could be the entrance to any type of a room, that is what is known as The Basement,” Losby explains. “This is where Rachmaninov met Horowitz for the very first time. This is where all the artists come to select their instruments.” As Losby speaks, there’s music wafting from behind the famous door. “You can hear, right now,” he exclaims, “Hélène Grimaud is selecting a piano for her performance in New York!”

Actually, she was selecting a piano for a new recording. Steinway not only sells pianos but loans them to major performers, like classical pianist Grimaud.

“I’m so fond of this space. I always love coming in to it,” Grimaud says. “You know, my heart starts to beat faster as I approach the door. I just love walking in here. There is something, it is just — I don’t know what it is imbued with, but there is something which resonates.”

Pop star Regina Spektor remembers coming to Steinway Hall shortly after she got a contract with Warner Brothers and needed to find the right piano to use on her first recording. She came to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union when she was 9, and says she was overwhelmed by the selection in The Basement.

“And it was really, really hard,” Spektor says, “because each one was better than the other, and they were all giant. And actually the space that we had was small, so we ended up going with this little guy that, I think by the middle of the record, I was just, If I could go back in time, and I could’ve had more money, I would’ve bought that guy. It was such a great piano!”

Steinway artist Christopher O’Riley, host of NPR’s From the Top, found a bigger guy to take to his California home — a 9-foot concert grand. He recently came to Steinway Hall just to practice in The Basement. He says he’ll miss the space, but still thinks Steinway is making the best pianos they have in years.

“It just makes you want to cry, you know, that here is this venerable old company that’s gone through all kinds of changes and now going through, probably, the biggest change,” O’Riley says. “Going from this beautiful, venerable old room and building and basement to new digs. But, yeah, they’re at the top of their game.”

The new Steinway Hall will open in about a year, a dozen blocks south. It will be a state-of-the-art facility, with a concert hall and recording studio — and an entirely new Basement.

Article from npr.com http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2014/12/27/372730314/steinway-bids-farewell-to-its-historic-hall

Playing Music & Your Kids’ Brains

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Could playing Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’ and other music improve kids’ brains?

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Date: December 23, 2014
Source: University of Vermont
Summary:
In a study called ‘the largest investigation of the association between playing a musical instrument and brain development,’ a child psychiatry team has found that musical training might also help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety.
Children who play the violin or study piano could be learning more than just Mozart. A University of Vermont College of Medicine child psychiatry team has found that musical training might also help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety. Their research is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

James Hudziak, M.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, and colleagues including Matthew Albaugh, Ph.D., and graduate student research assistant Eileen Crehan, call their study “the largest investigation of the association between playing a musical instrument and brain development.”

The research continues Hudziak’s work with the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development. Using its database, the team analyzed the brain scans of 232 children ages 6 to 18.

As children age, the cortex — the outer layer of the brain — changes in thickness. In previous analysis of MRI data, Hudziak and his team discovered that cortical thickening or thinning in specific areas of the brain reflected the occurrence of anxiety and depression, attention problems, aggression and behavior control issues even in healthy kids — those without a diagnosis of a disorder or mental illness. With this study, Hudziak wanted to see whether a positive activity, such as music training, would influence those indicators in the cortex.

The study supports The Vermont Family Based Approach, a model Hudziak created to establish that the entirety of a young person’s environment — parents, teachers, friends, pets, extracurricular activities — contributes to his or her psychological health. “Music is a critical component in my model,” Hudziak says.

The authors found evidence they expected — that music playing altered the motor areas of the brain, because the activity requires control and coordination of movement. Even more important to Hudziak were changes in the behavior-regulating areas of the brain. For example, music practice influenced thickness in the part of the cortex that relates to “executive functioning, including working memory, attentional control, as well as organization and planning for the future,” the authors write.

A child’s musical background also appears to correlate with cortical thickness in “brain areas that play a critical role in inhibitory control, as well as aspects of emotion processing.”

The findings bolster Hudziak’s hypothesis that a violin might help a child battle psychological disorders even better than a bottle of pills. “We treat things that result from negative things, but we never try to use positive things as treatment,” he says.

Such an approach may prove difficult to accomplish. According to the study’s authors, research from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that three-quarters of U.S. high school students “rarely or never” take extracurricular lessons in music or the arts.

“Such statistics, when taken in the context of our present neuroimaging results,” the authors write, “underscore the vital importance of finding new and innovative ways to make music training more widely available to youths, beginning in childhood.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Vermont. The original article was written by Carolyn Shapiro. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. James Hudziak, M.D. et al. Cortical Thickness Maturation and Duration of Music Training: Health-Promoting Activities Shape Brain Development.Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, December 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2014.06.015 show

Cite This Page:

University of Vermont. “Could playing Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’ and other music improve kids’ brains?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141223132546.htm>.