On Friday, October 27, 2017, Coker College commemorated its designation as an All-Steinway School with a celebration event attended by Ron Losby, CEO of Steinway Musical Instruments, and Steinway artist and “pianist to the Presidents” David Osborne. Coker is the third college in South Carolina and the only college in the Pee Dee to have the distinction of being an All-Steinway School.
With an inventory of 12 Steinway & Sons Boston vertical pianos and 11 Steinway & Sons grand pianos, Coker joins an exclusive group of only 175 institutions, colleges and universities in the world to have this privilege; that’s less than one percent of colleges and universities worldwide. Coker now has the same distinguished designation as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Yale School of Music, the China Conservatory of Music and the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. As an All-Steinway School, Coker offers its music students, faculty, guest performers and the community the highest quality pianos in classrooms, practice studios and performance spaces, and it gives Coker a competitive edge when recruiting musical talent.
At the All-Steinway Celebration, in front of a crowd of 300 in the Watson Theater of the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center, in addition to David Osborne, performers were Nick Robbins, a senior at Chesterfield High School (Chesterfield, S.C.) and Coker College Summer Piano Institute participant, Ladd Platt, a sophomore in the Honors College at the University of South Carolina and Coker College Summer Piano Institute participant, Justin “Blade” Boulware, a senior music major at Coker, Christi McLain, assistant lecturer in voice at Coker, Rita Chandler, an adjunct professor at Coker, and Ryan Smith, assistant professor of music at Coker and recent recipient of Steinway & Son’s top teacher award.
It took five years and over $650,000 in dedicated fundraising for Coker to earn this distinction. The honor of being an All-Steinway School is a designation given directly by Steinway & Sons. It means that at least 90% of a school’s pianos are Steinway & Sons, Boston or Essex pianos and a maintenance plan is in place as Steinway & Sons insists that their pianos be kept in performance quality condition.
Each Steinway & Sons piano has 12,000 individual parts and takes approximately three years to make, ensuring each is unique and flawlessly assembled. They use only the finest solid woods that have been carefully selected, cut and seasoned. They let the wood mature for up to two years before it’s used in a Steinway piano. The company has two manufacturing facilities: one in Queens, New York, and one in Hamburg, Germany. (To see how a Steinway piano is made, check out this recent video by The New York Times.)
After the All-Steinway Celebration, 150 Coker Society members and supporters proceeded to the Charles W. and Joan S. Coker Library-Information Technology Center for the first annual Coker Society Gala.