Lied Center exterior

Donors band together to bring new Steinway to Lied Center

Pictured with Lied Center’s new  Steinway piano are, from left,  Barbara Nordling, Hurst Coffman,  and Gunda and Dave Hiebert.
Pictured with Lied Center’s new Steinway piano are, from left, Barbara Nordling, Hurst Coffman, and Gunda and Dave Hiebert.

There’s a new star on the stage of the Lied Center of Kansas — a Steinway D concert grand piano.

Four University of Kansas donors: Barbara Nordling, Dave and Gunda Hiebert, and Hurst Coffman, provided more than half of the funds to KU Endowment for purchase of the $105,000 piano. This was augmented by gifts from 30 other KU alumni and friends.

A donor reception was held Jan. 21 for unveiling of the piano.

Tim Van Leer, Lied Center’s executive director, said the new Steinway, which is 9 feet long, will be used at specific types of performances. This includes world-class visiting pianists, KU faculty and student recitals, and pianists performing with the university symphony.

The new piano will help ensure stellar presentations for Lied Center audiences. “When pianists go from venue to venue, they are at the whim of each instrument,” Van Leer said. “In order to achieve the maximum results from an artist, you want to make sure you provide the kind of instrument that gets the results.”

Not only did the four primary donors contribute funds for the piano, but they also traveled to the Steinway and Sons Piano Factory in New York City, at their own expense, to accompany a team from KU to select the piano. Others on the New York trip included Tim Van Leer, executive director of Lied Center, Stephen Spooner, KU assistant professor of piano, and Tom Eversole, piano technician for KU’s music department.

Van Leer said that it was a close call to decide which piano to select. Spooner and Eversole spent most of a day trying out a room full of concert grands. They narrowed their selection to three pianos while the rest of the group toured the Steinway piano factory. When everyone gathered in the selection area, Spooner and Hurst Coffman, who is a pianist, played on the three pianos. “That turned out to be very helpful,” Van Leer said. “We were able to hear the same pieces of music on each instrument and select the one that would be best for Lied Center.”

KU Endowment is the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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