January 22, 2018 at 2:15pm
Dane Lisser

Millikin to donate used instruments to Decatur schools

Millikin University is pleased to announce the arrival of 21 new Steinway pianos consistent with its status as an All-Steinway school. Thanks to a generous gift from a loyal Millikin alumnus family, the flagship instrument of this collection was delivered to Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Jan. 19, 2018. This gift continues the donor's selfless family tradition of supporting musical education and performance at the highest levels of Millikin and throughout central Illinois.

The beautiful nine foot Steinway D was hand-selected from the Steinway & Sons factory in New York City by Millikin's Coordinator of Keyboard Studies, Dr. Silvan Negruţiu. It is a premier example of the piano-maker's art – a world-class instrument destined to provide years of enjoyment to Millikin School of Music students, faculty, guest artists, Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra and other Kirkland Fine Arts Center patrons. Dr. Negruţiu will debut the instrument in a public recital at Kirkland Fine Arts Center on March 25 at 4 p.m.

Millikin Steinway Piano

Through additional ongoing fundraising efforts, Millikin also received four Steinway Bs, a Steinway O and will receive several upright pianos to replace various instruments across campus.

"We received a brand new Steinway D piano, as well as four Steinway B pianos and a Steinway O delivered to the School of Music, and we expect additional pianos to be delivered in March," said Brian Justison, director of the School of Music at Millikin. "We had a donor who came forward to purchase the Steinway D – it's great for the School of Music to receive new pianos."

Steinways are all handmade, and Justison and Negruţiu were looking for particular qualities in the concert instrument while in New York. Both said it needed to be heard above the orchestra, to fill up a 2,000-seat auditorium, and for its voice to be rich and bright.

Millikin Steinway Piano

"A School of Music presents itself to the world through its arts programming and reputation," Justison said. "The designation that Millikin has as a Steinway school really speaks to both of those things. Steinway approached us wanting to support our artistic efforts. The piano is one of the most implemented instruments that we have in the School of Music."

Pianos are used at the very core of the Millikin School of Music. Every student is required to take a piano class; students also use pianos for homework and composition. The pianos accompany virtually everything in the School of Music from choirs to solo recitals.   

We believe deeply in the importance of partnerships that support our public schools and know that arts education has power to enrich and change young people's lives.

The upgrade in piano inventory is an extraordinary benefit to Millikin students, faculty, and patrons of music at the university, but beyond the university, it will create extended benefits into the larger Decatur community as 16 used pianos at Millikin will be donated to Decatur schools as part of Millikin's continued commitment to local arts education.

"We're very glad to have this opportunity to further support music education in the Decatur Public Schools," said Millikin Provost Dr. Jeff Aper. "We believe deeply in the importance of partnerships that support our public schools and know that arts education has power to enrich and change young people's lives."

Millikin Steinway Piano

Decatur Public Schools Superintendent Paul Fregeau said the district is fortunate to have a longstanding partnership with Millikin to provide new learning experiences for students.

"We appreciate the collaborative effort established by our friends at the university," Fregeau said. "This is just another example of how they continue to take our historic partnership to the next level and continuously offer resources to benefit our teachers and students."

Millikin Steinway Piano

Justison noted, "We want to continue to do whatever we can to further our relationship with the local schools. We have some excellent pianos that aren't Steinways that we will find homes for and obviously the schools came to mind first."

For more information on how you can support the fundraising effort, please contact Mandi Podeschi, senior director of development in Millikin's Alumni and Development Office at 217.424.6383 or by e-mail at apodeschi@millikin.edu.

Millikin Steinway Piano

"We believe Steinways are the best instruments on the planet," Justison said. "Of all the concert pianists out there in the world, most of them are playing Steinways."

The mission of the Millikin School of Music is to develop the whole musician – artistically, intellectually, technically – through the integration of theory and practice in an environment where students become active learners through their relationships with faculty, who themselves continue to grow as artists, scholars, and teachers.

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