It’s bright orange, rocks the “Song that Shakes the Southland,” and is waiting to greet visitors to the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts. Steinway Gallery Carolinas has furnished the Clemson University Department of Performing Arts with a bespoke Steinway & Sons grand piano, designed in honor of Clemson Football’s most recent National Championship.
“We know the fan-base of Clemson is legend, so that was a lot of the inspiration,” said Dutch Adkins, vice president of service and marketing for Steinway Gallery Carolinas. “This is the brainchild of our owners, Mark and Katherine Love. We opened our gallery just a few years ago in Greenville, and Mark thought it would be a great idea to create and show off Steinway’s ability to do custom-made finishes on hand-crafted pianos.”
When Performing Arts chair Linda Dzuris learned about the instrument, she knew where it needed to go. “I immediately thought it should be showcased here at the Brooks Center where Tigers can experience the world-class sound of unmatched craftsmanship,” she said. “The Department of Performing Arts is thrilled to be partnering with Steinway and we are grateful for the loan of this instrument, which is the first step in our journey to become an All-Steinway institution.”
In addition to the distinctive orange exterior finish and purple interior accents, the instrument is a Spirio high-resolution player piano. Naturally, the first entries in its performance library are variations on “Tiger Rag.”
Minutes after the instrument rolled through the doors, Performing Arts professor Linda Li-Bleuel was at the keyboard. “Like all the greatest pianists in the world, they are Steinway artists,” she explained, “and that is associated with very elite, highbrow prestige.”
While the instrument is on loan to the Brooks Center, it is available for faculty, staff and students to practice and perform on up to four hours per week. The combination of the piano’s quality and its ability to replicate performances has Li-Bleuel excited about how to use the instrument to motivate students. “It will make a huge difference in how they think they sound, in sound production, and how they even press down a key,” she said. “It’ll be different from watching [great performances] on YouTube, because it’s going to be right there live, that will be a huge teaching tool for them to have that inspiration.”
In addition to being a high-tech teaching tool, Li-Bleuel is enthusiastic about what the piano represents—a blend of ideas that uniquely represent Clemson Performing Arts.
“I like classical music and football,” she said. “I thought this was a great way to mesh two distinctively different cultures and bring out the best in both.”
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