USF debuts newly refurbished limited edition Steinway at special concert

The generous anonymous gift of a limited edition Steinway & Sons 1973 Indiana Black Walnut Concert Grand Piano to the University of South Florida in Tampa has garnered another substantial donation of $35,000 from St. Pete-based pianist and International Steinway Artist Rebecca Penneys to go toward the piano’s refurbishing.

As the Founder and Director of the Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival at USF, Penneys is dedicated to the support and fostering of arts, music, and culture in the Tampa Bay Area.
“Steinway is the Rolls Royce of pianos: It’s the best piano made since modern pianos were manufactured. They don’t produce many walnut pianos because the traditional finish is ebony, so you can gather that this piano was purchased for home use. Not everything had to be replaced, but many inside parts are being refurbished and replaced with new parts that will last upwards of 25-30 years,” Penneys says. “One of the interesting parts is that we didn’t know what it would sound like before the rebuild; each piano has their own voice. In a couple of weeks, I’ll play it for the first time, so I will be a part of the fine-tuning.”
Pianist Rebecca PenneysTo honor both of these donations and give piano-enthusiasts and others the chance to hear what makes the Steinway so impressive, the USF Concert Hall will host an unveiling concert with a performance by Penneys on Jan. 19, 2020, from 2-4 p.m. Tickets are available on TicketMaster: $5 for students, $10 for seniors and active military, and $15 for general admission.
Penneys will be playing music from many different eras and styles. From the Baroque period, she will be playing Scarlotti. To honor his 250th birthday, selections from Beethoven will be played along with Chopin and Gershwin.
“Steinway is like a living entity: different years have different sounds. From my perspective, what makes the piano such a beautiful instrument is that the sound is the key of emotion. Whenever a person sits down, it’s like a fingerprint. It’s different from all the other people that interact with it based on how you maneuver the various parts. It’s the color and variety of the sound that moves us when we listen to it,” Penneys says. “One of the reasons why I’m so big into education and love to perform is that because at this time we’re living in, I see music as a peacemaker. It’s non-verbal communication, letting the music wash over you.”

The piano's refurbishing was done at The Music Gallery in Clearwater.

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Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website. Visit her recent line of inlay “wearable paintings.”
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