With the purchase of 37 Steinway pianos, ORU became one of 120 All-Steinway Schools worldwide. What most people do not know, however, is that the All-Steinway initiative dates back to before ORU’s founding.
The pianos in the ORU practice rooms were a little rough around the edges—some were out of tune, and others did not have working pedals. This condition made it difficult for aspiring musicians to improve, but with the new
Steinway pianos, students are able to perform with greater quality.
Sophomore music composition major Tom Bracciale said having old pianos was a hindrance for students to maximize their capabilities.
“Although our music faculty here are more than qualified for teaching and truly make the music department great, playing on outdated equipment made it hard for all of us to grow into our full potential,” said Bracciale.
Christy Redmond, a freshman music education major with a piano emphasis, said that having Steinways changed everything for her as a musician.
“The difference is like day and night,” said Redmond. “Steinway is such an elite level. It gives me more motivation to practice.”
Three renowned Steinway artists have graduated from ORU including the late Larry Dalton, who played with the Oral Roberts ministry; David Osborne, pianist to the president; and Donald Ryan, current faculty member of ORU.
The music department’s desire to be an All-Steinway School dates back to founder Oral Roberts’ vision during the tent crusades. In 1948, Roberts stated that he wanted the best Steinway pianos for his ministry. ORU Provost John
Messick echoed this desire in 1965.
Since that time, the school purchased seven Steinways, but could not invest in more. Then in 2009, the music department really began working toward the All-Steinway goal. Music professor Joyce Bridgman said the purpose of their efforts was to achieve a higher status and fulfill Roberts’ vision.
“This initiative will allow ORU to purchase and maintain Steinway pianos—the highest quality of pianos—thereby continuing Founder and Chancellor Oral Roberts’ vision and standard of excellence in all aspects of ORU,” said Bridgman.
At the end of February 2011, the music department’s dream was finally fulfilled, and ORU replaced all its old pianos with brand new, handmade Steinways. Bridgman sold every old piano except one grand in just two days.
Steinway status not only gives ORU prestige, but it also provides the opportunity to hold an annual concert in Steinway Hall, New York City, N.Y.
Department chair Randy Guthrie said ORU’s prestigious status will invite driven students to enroll.
“The word Steinway is synonymous with excellence,” said Guthrie. “This will give us the prestige to attract the best and brightest students.”
Access to the Steinways is limited to students enrolled in music classes in order to preserve the instruments’ quality. Students must unlock the pianos with a key from the department secretary and relock them once they finish practicing. The department is considering investing in hand scanners, fingerprint scanners, or card swipe machines to simplify access to the pianos.
The faculty and staff are thankful to see Roberts’ vision come true, but no one is as excited as the music students.
Sophomore Emily Hong, graphic design major with a minor in music, said Steinway status makes her appreciate ORU even more.
“Being the first school in Tulsa to be an All-Steinway School is great,” said Hong. “It’s a privilege for me to be here.”
Redmond said being part of an All-Steinway school is a great honor.
“It makes the whole department more proud,” said Redmond. “It’s cool to have it as our own to say, ‘ORU is an All-Steinway School.’”