Concert Grand Tour

So you're the Kenyon music department and the College budget finally includes money to buy the perfect piano for Rosse Hall. Big, beautiful sound. Expressive keyboard action. A winning personality. Your next step?

Send department chair Benjamin Locke, piano coordinator John Reitz, and emeritus professor Camilla Cai on an aesthetic
expedition to Steinway & Sons in New York. After the factory tour, they convene in a selection room where performance-hall acoustics can be simulated, and Reitz puts five concert grands through their gorgeous paces. The Kenyon trio listens, and listens, and one instrument just seems to sing out, "I'm the one."

The nine-foot beauty arrived in January. And suddenly Rosse is that much more sublime.

Piano Particulars

Price: $85,000 (an institutional discount; full price is $99,000)

Weight: 985 pounds

Total string tension: nearly 30 tons

Joyful performer: Jacob Yandura '09, a music major and departmental accompanist

Soundboard: close-grained quarter-sawn spruce, formed by hand

Rim: 18 layers of hard maple, each 22 feet long and bent into shape as a single continuous piece

Unique personality: emerges from the "voicing" process, involving minute adjustments to the felt on each of the 88 hammers

Weird fact: The keys have to be "broken in." In a soundproof room, a machine hits all 88 keys at once, over and over. "I don't think I have ever heard a sound as glorious," says Camilla Cai, "except the time I heard a harp fall down a full flight of stairs."