Being an All-Steinway School still leaves teachers, students in awe 11 years later

By Elizabeth Gray
Staff Writer
According to Hedi Salanki-Rubardt, director of the piano program and a Yamaha Artist, being an “All-Steinway School” has made a monumental difference for the University of West Florida. Jan. 28 marks the date that the Department of Music gets to celebrate this prestigious honor for the 11th year.

The All-Steinway Celebration is a time for students and teachers to come together and honor the grand gesture made by Helen Wentworth in 2007. Wentworth made the donation in remembrance of her husband’s love of the Steinway after he passed away.

One of the 18 Steinway pianos at UWF is in the Music Hall at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Photo by Elizabeth Gray.

Jonathan Adams, a junior studying education and music, said that Steinway pianos make a big difference to the person playing them. “For anyone who knows pianos, Steinways are the best of the best.”
But the pianos themselves are not the only way being an All-Steinway School impacts students. “It also makes a difference in the practice rooms. The sound is better, the acoustics are better, the overall quality is just better,” Adams said.

For some students, the title of an All-Steinway School is what solidified their decision to attend UWF. Students like Nyasha Brice, a senior studying music performance, said it was the deciding factor when choosing a school.
“You don’t get the opportunity growing up to play on a Steinway. Then you hear that it’s an All-Steinway School, and then you play a Steinway for the first time and it’s just this amazing sound and color. It’s like driving a Maserati.”

Not only does the title help bring students to UWF, it also comes in handy when the department wants special guests to play at the school.
Salanki-Rubardt said, “It really helps when we are inviting guest artists because very distinguished artists are Steinway artists and they are required to play on a Steinway.”

Salanki-Rubardt was teaching at UWF when Wentworth made the donation and said, “It was absolutely wonderful. Especially because we had a chance to go to the Steinway factory in New York and choose the pianos. It was an amazing trip. It gave us such a boost and inspiration.” The department was struggling because of poor equipment when Wentworth made her donation.

Thanks to Wentworth’s gift, the music department is getting a lot of support not only from the school but from the community as well.

Salanki-Rubardt said she is ecstatic about the upcoming performance. “It is wonderful that we are getting a lot of support from our chair, Dr. Sheila Dunn. She is doing a wonderful job with the faculty and the students. It is good for them to know that they have support.”

Salanki-Rubardt also praised the community, saying, “I love the support we get from the community. Slowly we have been building the audience, and people know it’s happening and they come. It’s usually a full house and it is wonderful.”

If you are interested in attending the All-Steinway Celebration, it starts at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the UWF Center for Performing Arts in the UWF Music Hall. The concert is open and free to the public. For more information and to reserve tickets contact the CFPA Box Office at 850-857-6285.