The Centurion

Music Professor Succeeds in Making Bucks an “All Steinway School”

Left to right: Professor Ferdinand, music program chair Steven Bresnen, and Arts Department Dean John Matthews

Left to right: Professor Ferdinand, music program chair Steven Bresnen, and Arts Department Dean John Matthews

Brandon Bailey

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After acquiring 11 American crafted, Steinway & Sons pianos, Bucks County Community College has just become the only community college in the nation to be named an ‘All-Steinway School’ by the legendary American Piano maker as well as being named an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music.

According to the press release on the school’s website, Bucks President Stephanie Shanblatt stated, “Our goal is to seek excellence in everything we do. Partnering with Steinway and Sons in this endeavor continues our college along that path.”

Steinway Pianos have been hand crafted since 1853 and have set a standard for sound, touch, beauty, and most importantly; investment value. The press release also included a statement from the head of the Music Area of the Arts Department, Professor Steven Brensen, saying, “By investing in Steinway pianos – high-quality instruments that are prized for their superior craftsmanship and design, reliability, longevity, and persistent value over time – Bucks has provided its music program, students, and faculty with a product of exceptional pragmatic and artistic merit.”

The driving force behind the acquisition of these world-class pianos would be none other than Associate Professor Edward Ferdinand. Ferdinand trained on Steinways at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Julliard School and would know more about these instruments than anyone else at the college.

He began his efforts in bringing these pianos to Bucks back in 2009 by working with the Bucks Foundation. He wrote grants and launched a fundraising campaign to bring about this distinguished honor.

“The first grant that we had ever received was from the Presser Organization for $50,000. After that, we received another grant for $15,000,” said Ferdinand. “Not only did we receive these grants, but we also asked for donations from Alumni and friends as well.”

When asked what is so special about these pianos, Ferdinand said, ”The original pianos in this school were between 40 and 50 years old. Their sound boards were just about shot and they didn’t hold tune very well anymore. The Steinway’s are much more stable.”

Ferdinand owes a lot of gratitude toward Bucks Foundation members Tobi Bruhn and Jean Homes. “Those two were a huge help to me throughout this entire campaign and for that, I am very grateful,” said Ferdinand.

The designation of an All-Steinway School represents the dedication that this institution and appreciation for the Arts Department. In celebration of this achievement, the college held “Unrivaled Sound: A Celebration of Steinway Excellence” this past May 6 in the Zlock Performing Arts Center at the Newtown Campus. This performance not only included students performing on the new Steinways, but faculty, alumni, and guests as well.

The acquisition of the Steinway pianos puts the music program at Bucks on a whole new level. Not only that, but it attracts more and more Steinway performers to the school as well. “I am thrilled that this project I began eight years ago has become a reality for our students and faculty,” said Ferdinand. “I’m completely thrilled not just for my own sake, but for the sake of students and faculty as well.”

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The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College
Music Professor Succeeds in Making Bucks an “All Steinway School”