For Barry Kopetz, head of the Mississippi State University (MSU) Department of Music and conductor of the Starkville/MSU Symphony, any discussion of the best piano out there begins and ends with Steinway. And he couldn’t be happier that MSU has made a firm commitment toward attaining All-Steinway School status through the purchase of additional models for students.
“Steinway is a worldwide-recognized superior piano, and is the choice of more than 90 percent of artists throughout the world,” said Kopetz, who has owned a Steinway for over two decades. “It all goes back to the handmade quality of each instrument. Having toured the factory and seen the painstaking process, my appreciation has gone up a hundredfold.
“What makes Steinway so special is their absolute commitment to excellence and craftsmanship. Students know that any school that is committed to All-Steinway status is serious about their commitment to music. The touch on each and every instrument is simply second to none.”
The process began about four years ago when Dr. Rosangela Sebba asked Richard Blackbourn, dean of the College of Education (COE), for the bulk of a substantial donation that had been made to the COE (the MSU music department is housed under the COE). A total fundraising goal of $2 million was set, and once MSU gets there, it will become one of less than 200 conservatories and music departments around the world to earn All-Steinway School status.
“Making Steinway pianos the standard in our music department will let prospective students and faculty and the rest of the world know that we are serious about quality,” said Trish Cunetto, COE director of development, “and (that we) intend to give our piano majors and other music students access to the best instruments in the world.
“All music majors โ€“ whether vocal, piano or instrumental โ€“ receive four semesters of piano instruction; the piano truly is the cornerstone of the degree program. In spring 2014, with the delivery of five Steinways, we made a good start toward achieving this goal.”
“It was this initial gift (from the COE) that jump-started the program,” Kopetz said. “Since then we have purchased another Steinway upright, and (former provost) Dr. Jerry Gilbert purchased a seven-foot Steinway for the new classroom building on the MSU campus.”
Gifts of $250 or more toward an original Steinway are publicly recognized as participating in the All-Steinway School Initiative. Gifts of $500 are recognized as contributing donors, while gifts of $1,000 are designated as key donors. Kopetz is quick to add, though, that any donation is a crucial one.
“Most people do not realize that once you have the pianos, you must have an endowment to maintain them,” Kopetz said. “It is like purchasing any excellent product; once you purchase it, you must maintain it. Believe me when I say it is well worth the cost. The piano I purchased over twenty years ago is worth more than the day I purchased it, and that is the beauty of investing in Steinway. They simply hold their value.”
“We hope to expand the number of pianos to over 30 in the coming years,” Cunetto said. “This will be a long-term investment in the future, and with proper care these exquisite, hand-crafted instruments can have a life of 100 years.
“A gift to MSU is a wonderful way to help others have access to these magnificent instruments to nurture their talent. Individuals can honor or memorialize a loved one, former professor or classmate with a gift for the purchase of these prestigious instruments.”
Donate to the Steinway School Initiative today at and contact Cunetto at 662-325-6762 for more information.