Would I be willing to travel to the ends of the earth in pursuit of ‘just the right’ piano for St George’s? Maybe, just maybe. As it happens, I need only go as far as Hamburg as that’s where you’ll find one of the world’s two production factories for Steinway & Sons. Later today I’ll be flying there to select a new piano for St George’s: a Steinway Concert Grand Model D to be precise. Never one to do anything by halves, and not wanting to humiliate myself by struggling through a 2nd rate rendition of a Beethoven sonata, I thought it best to take a world class pianist along to put the pianos through their paces. My number one choice was Paul Lewis and, by some tremendous stroke of luck, he said yes. I couldn’t be more excited!
Ulrich Gerhartz is one of the Directors at Steinway and he looks after the two pianos at St George’s. He’s already in Hamburg and is doing the first trawl of pianos, selecting 3-5 instruments from the many, many pianos in production there, and setting them aside for the final preparation before our arrival tomorrow morning. Bright and breezy on the 7.30 morning flight. Each and every piano is a wonderful instrument in its own right, but we’re seeking the crème de la crème of these instruments, the one that will be just right for a hall that boasts one of the finest acoustics in the world. It must be an instrument versatile enough to be our number one choice for solo recitals by the world’s most distinguished pianists, but also one that can lend itself to the role of accompanying or orchestral instrument. And it must have a voice that doesn’t overwhelm, but truly ‘sings’ when it takes its position centre stage.
I’ll be taking lots of photos and finding out more about the process of making a piano so watch this space for further updates. Thank you to all those donors who have already contributed to our Piano Appeal. We still have quite some way to go before we reach the final target so if you can help, please, please get in touch as we need all the friends we can find.
Suzanne Rolt, Director
Find out more about the St George’s Bristol ‘Grand Piano Appeal’