A Gift of Music

The late Mark A. Chapman's gift allows K-State to be named All-Steinway School

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"The magic of these instruments draw students in to create perhaps the most hard-to-find thing in today's noisy world: gorgeous musical sound." - Virginia Houser, associate professor of piano

Thanks to a generous donation by alumnus Mark A. Chapman, Kansas State University's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is being named an All-Steinway School.

Steinway and Sons pianos are considered the finest in the world. Founded in 1853, Steinway pianos are still built by hand, each taking nearly a year to create. The carefully selected wood is cured for months, and nearly 100 sets of hands will piece them together.

Gary Mortenson, former school director, said Chapman's donation allowed the school to purchase 40 new pianos and refurbish four existing Steinway pianos. Each new piano can cost up to $150,000, while refurbishing can cost $25,000 per piano.

"Sadly, Mark A. Chapman passed away just days before the first shipment of pianos arrived," Mortenson said. "However, his wife was able to visit the school, see the pianos and the 'Mark A. Chapman Steinway Studio' plaques on the wall."

The honor of becoming an All-Steinway School is rare, offered only to schools where 95 percent of the pianos are Steinways. Mortenson said the fact that the pianos are still handcrafted speaks to their level of excellence.

"You could make a Steinway efficiently on an assembly line, but you would lose the soul of the music, the humanity," he said. "When you mix pure talent with quality, you get the best possible result."

Piano instructors and professors were able to try out the Steinway pianos before choosing their own for their classrooms. Virginia Houser, associate professor of piano pedagogy, said becoming an All-Steinway School is an experience of which all pianists dream.

"The magic of these instruments draw students in to create perhaps the most hard-to-find thing in today's noisy world: gorgeous musical sound," she said.

Chapman's generosity and legacy will live on through the talent and development of the many students who practice their skill on the university's Steinway pianos, Mortenson said. These pianos will be placed in music studios and stages across campus.

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