"Father of Virtual Reality" and Internet2 innovator Jaron Lanier was the keynote speaker for NIU's Celebrating Excellence event. Recognized internationally as a computer scientist, musician and digital media pioneer, Lanier visited the School of Music to explore NIU's World Music and technology activities.
The Northern Illinois University School of Music is now the proud owner of a remarkable Italian Fazioli F278 9-foot grand piano, thanks to a $100,000 grant check received today (April 2) from the Dr. Agnes Varis Trust. NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Richard Holly authored the grant at the urging of NIU alumnus and valued patron Jeffrey Yordon, who was familiar with the Trust.
The grant application noted, "The Northern Illinois University School of Music is a leading supplier of arts programming in the entire northern Illinois region, including Chicago. The School boasts a top-ten jazz program, an elite world music program, is home to the noted Avalon String Quartet, and several additional areas of distinction... the NIU School of Music provides live performances and instruction and also uses internet video technologies for performing and teaching, to engage more than ½ million people in the past year through live and online teaching and performance activities."
The "new" Fazioli piano was gently used in a private home for several years and is in like-new condition. This instrument would normally cost $180,000, but PianoForte Chicago, the same partner who facilitated the School of Music's acquisition of a rare Hamburg Steinway Model C grand piano last fall, was able to provide this piano from a private owner for virtually half the cost of a new Fazioli shipped from Italy.
With its first pianos built only 30 years ago, Fazioli has quickly gained a reputation as the most finely crafted pianos in the world – only 110 are made each year in Italy – and the Fazioli piano has been described as “an instrument of rare distinction.” PianoForte Chicago allowed NIU to "audition" the instrument for several months, and it was indeed a special instrument. NIU piano faculty member and Distinguished Teaching Professor William Goldenberg exclaimed, "It's fantastic. I'm thrilled we'll have it."
The Fazioli F278 joins a wonderful New York Steinway Model D 9-foot piano in Boutell Concert Hall. Along with the Recital Hall's new Grotrian Model 225 and wonderful Hamburg Steinway Model C grand piano (both from Germany), "these four performance grand pianos comprise the finest collection of performance pianos in the Midwest, comparable to the best that could be found anywhere in the country. The music from these instruments will enrich the lives of our students, faculty, guest artists and audiences in DeKalb and around the world for decades to come," said Paul Bauer- Director of the NIU School of Music.
Dr. Agnes Varis (1930-2011) believed that philanthropy uplifts both the individual and the community. A legendary business leader, Dr. Varis co-founded Marsam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Aegis Pharmaceuticals, both generic pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Varis and her husband supported the arts, especially music, which they both believed “belonged to the people.” During her lifetime, Dr. Varis donated over $30 million to various arts programs, many at the Metropolitan Opera and the Jazz Foundation of America. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, she built the Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rehearsal and Recording Studio, one of the largest recording studios in New York City. In 2010 Dr. Varis was appointed by President Obama to the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities (PCAH). Upon her death, on July 29, 2011, members in both the United States Senate and the Congress publicly recognized her achievements in business and philanthropy and thanked her for her service to the people of her country.
For more information, contact Lynn Slater email@example.com 815-753-1546.
This summer has seen several changes to the piano inventory at NIU. We have added Grotrian and Hamburg Steinway semi-concert grand pianos to the Recital Hall, retired a well-worn Yamaha upright, and replaced it with a new Schimmel upright. The Schimmel and Grotrian both hail from Braunsweig Germany. The Hamburg comes from, well, Hamburg.
Last year we experimented with the use of a slightly shorter piano in the Recital Hall, as the sound of the wonderful 9-foot American Steinway Model D had “opened up” and was moved to Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, where its big voice matches the large hall. PianoForte Chicago generously provided a Grotrian 7.5 foot semi-concert grand piano for the Recital Hall last year, which allowed the faculty to confirm it indeed was the right size for the space. We purchased the new Grotrian in May, with faculty declaring a 7.5 foot Hamburg Model C semi-concert grand piano would ideally complete a two-piano Recital Hall inventory, even though finding an available Model C in the US soon might be impossible.
Then, unexpectedly, a Hamburg Steinway Model C became available in Chicago in July. The piano faculty went to try it and quickly fell in love with it. Retired NIU faculty member and Former Associate Dean of the Graduate School Carla W. Montgomery learned of the opportunity and explained she was a piano accompanist for her choirs in school and understood the impact a great piano has on the performances of pianists and their musical collaborators. With a few strokes of a pen, she changed impossible to possible, and immediate arrangements were made. After a harrowing ride on end atop the elevator leaving its old home, (not the recommended method!) it has now arrived at NIU!
Anyone wishing to try the Schimmel upright will have to ask Jui-Ching Wang nicely. It is in her office.
And the Italian surprise? Arrangements have been made with PianoForte Chicago for the use of a rare 9-foot Fazioli F278 concert grand piano in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. With its first pianos built only 30 years ago, Fazioli has quickly gained a reputation as the most finely crafted pianos in the world – only 110 are made each year in Italy – and the Fazioli piano has been described as “an instrument of rare distinction.”
“Our performance pianos will be the envy of many institutions, as is our piano technician David Graham who facilitated our receiving all of these pianos” says Paul Bauer, Director of the NIU School of Music. “Our students, faculty, and community will all enjoy these fabulous instruments, not to mention people in more than 150 countries around the world via our LIVE HD WEBCASTS and YouTube videos.”
Anyone wishing to donate for the next piano purchase should speak to Dean Holly or Dr. Bauer. They have a list!