By Henry Parsons (5th, BH)
Cheltenham College has recently been inducted into the ‘All-Steinway School’ programme, where all pianos in the music department will be replaced by ones manufactured by Steinway.
Steinway invited representatives from College to their factory in Hamburg, Germany, for a guided tour of the factory and to select the three new grand pianos (one model A and two model AS’s) and to perform the first ever school concert in the Steinway choosing room. College will receive 16 new pianos in total, in addition to the three grand pianos, there will also be two concert grands and 11 uprights. I was lucky enough to be part of the group of six College and three Prep pupils that were selected to go on the trip to help choose our new grand pianos.
After some very hot Nando’s at the airport and a twenty-minute delay, we boarded the flight to Hamburg. Once we arrived, we made our way to the hostel where we would spend the night.
The next morning, we set off early to the piano factory. A Steinway representative welcomed us warmly and we began our tour of the factory. We were guided through many different rooms involving different aspects of the manufacture of all Steinway pianos. The most interesting room, in which we were not allowed to take photos out of respect for the skilled craftsman at work, was where they crafted the soundboard. Unlike all other piano companies, Steinway handcrafts their soundboards and it was very special seeing this in action.
After a delicious lunch provided by the company, we were lead into the choosing room. We had seven pianos to choose three from, and so, after all playing a couple of bars from a piece on each, we went to stand by the one we wanted and explained why we had chosen it. After the choosing, the president of Steinway himself came to watch our two best pianists, Shirley Lo (5th, A) and Henry Hiscock (Year 7), perform pieces and then the whole group performed an ensemble piece with vocals and all the orchestral parts played on the pianos at our disposal.
After a very pleasant couple of hours sight-seeing the next day, we returned home just in time for the weekend. It was a wonderful beginning to our relationship with the company as an 'All-Steinway School'.