MOBILE, Ala. – University of Mobile has been named an “All-Steinway School” after completing a year-long fundraising campaign to replace its inventory of aging pianos with 24 Steinway pianos.
Now, students in the Christian university’s music and performing arts programs are practicing and performing on pianos considered by many professional musicians to be the finest instruments in the world.
The university will celebrate the accomplishment on Nov. 18 during Christmas Spectacular, UM’s 14th annual holiday musical extravaganza featuring over 250 musicians. Tickets for Christmas Spectacular are available at itickets.com. Performances at Cottage Hill Baptist Church are set for 6:45 p.m. Nov. 17-19 and 3:45 p.m. Nov. 20.
Sally Coveleskie, Steinway’s national director of higher education, will tour the UM Center for Performing Arts on Friday, Nov. 18 prior to making the presentation that evening.
“We are delighted to welcome University of Mobile to our family of All-Steinway Schools. What an impressive campaign this was!” Coveleskie said in notifying the university of its status as the world’s 185th All-Steinway School. The designation of All-Steinway School means 90 percent of the university’s piano inventory, from the practice room to the recital hall, must be designed by Steinway & Sons.
UM raised $518,950 in one year through the “All Steinway, All Together” campaign. A $250,000 matching donation kicked off the campaign. Donors Sherry Turner and Mike Atkins of Naples, Fla., provided the initial donation in honor of Dr. Roger and Linda Breland “for 50 years of mentoring, teaching and equipping the next generation of Christian leaders and performers.”
Turner and Atkins said from the moment they met Breland and students traveling with the vocal ensemble Voices of Mobile, “we sensed that the university was making a significant investment in our future leaders for Christ. We were instantly intrigued with the possibilities to partner in that effort. Our love for beautiful piano music particularly pulled us toward the All-Steinway effort.
“Our prayer is that achieving this goal will serve to bring more faithful young people to the university to study and to develop their calling to serve Christ. We feel blessed to have had a part in this effort and know that all praise belongs to Christ for this wonderful vision coming to life there,” they said.
UM Associate Professor of Music Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva, who is an internationally recognized Steinway Artist, and Associate Professor of Piano Becky Fox were co-chairs of the All Steinway, All Together campaign.
“Being an All-Steinway School is not only a dedication to a commitment of excellence, but it also provides the world’s best instruments for students and faculty. This will help us bring a higher standard to music education and grow academically. We will see a difference,” Onalbayeva said.
Music composition and piano major Emily LaForce said Christmas Spectacular audiences will have an opportunity to hear the difference, when she and other students are featured performing on a Steinway.
“Practicing on Steinways makes a world of difference,” LaForce said. “My ear is better developed; my dynamics are getting so much better. As far as touch goes, it’s consistent; you don’t have to adjust for each piano. I think the audience hears a truer portrayal of the music I’m playing, because I have a clearer idea of what I’m practicing.”
LaForce said she is excited that “everybody has rallied together to support our cause to beome an All-Steinway School. This is huge for our piano department, and significant for our community, that we are upholding excellence in this way.”
Tonya Gollotte, executive director for corporate and foundation relations, said raising all the funds needed within one year “is just remarkable.”
“We are so thankful to all of our donors who graciously gave to this campaign and weren’t afraid to dream big with us. This campaign was successful for two reasons: God and our donors. We are truly blessed,” Gollotte said.