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Piano Recital Series Spotlights Beautiful Instruments in Gracious Homes

At-Home Steinway Series Debuts May 1 in Center Valley, Pa.

Bethlehem, Pa., March 29, 2005—On the way to becoming an all-Steinway campus, a project that has occupied Moravian College for more than five years, the College will begin a new venture called the At-Home Steinway Series on May Day.

The series, which features historic and concert instruments in some of the Lehigh Valley’s most beautiful homes, has been organized by the Moravian College Music Alliance, support group for the College’s music programs. Co-chairs for the series are Jane Crilly Schultz and Richard Groman ’78.

Mrs. Schultz will host the debut event: a performance by Moravian music alumni and a garden reception at her home in Center Valley. Her piano is a 1901 Steinway grand with an apple-green French rococo case designed by J.B. Tiffany. The finish is enhanced by gilt scrollwork and faux-18th-century scenes of nymphs and shepherds in the manner of French painters Watteau and Fragonard.

Jacobs Music Company of Philadelphia and its local store in Whitehall, which have worked closely with the College on the all-Steinway campus project, will bring a Steinway historian to the inaugural concert to describe the gorgeously decorated pianos that Steinway built in the first half of the century.

The reason for the all-Steinway campus project is explained by Paula Ring Zerkle, chair of Moravian’s Music Department. “Piano proficiency is required of music majors, and the pianos in our studios and practice rooms are in constant heavy use. For more than 150 years, Steinway & Sons pianos have been appreciated by musicians for their tone and evenness of action, while their workmanship and longevity have been valued by owners and caretakers.

“Through the generosity of individuals, foundations, corporations, and the Moravian College Music Alliance, eight new Steinway pianos grace the stages of Foy Hall and Peter Hall, faculty studios, and practice rooms. Proceeds from the At-Home Steinway Series will be used for matching funds, allowing Moravian College to provide first-class instruments for practice and performance. It also opens some of the Lehigh Valley’s finest homes to showcase their heirloom pianos and concert instruments.”

Kimberly Buschta Poloni ’99 will perform on the piano as soloist and as accompanist to Lauren P. Nicholas ’01, saxophone. Mrs. Poloni was the first student at the College to earn her music degree in accompanying. She teaches music privately in Whitehall.

Ms. Nicholas, who has a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, is an adjunct faculty member in graphic design at Moravian College and teaches at the Community Music School in Allentown.

Mrs. Poloni will describe her experiences as an accompanist and performer, and both musicians will introduce the works they are playing: solo piano pieces by Chopin and Debussy, and a movement for saxophone and piano from the “Scaramouche” suite by Darius Milhaud.

The musicale, 4-6 p.m. Sunday, May 1, 2005, begins with a champagne reception. By May, Mrs. Schultz says her extensive gardens should be at the height of their spring flowering.

The program begins with a talk on “Art Case Pianos” by Miles Chapin, an actor and a historian of the decorative arts who has written a book on these elaborate pianos, 88 Keys: The Making of a Steinway Piano. Art case pianos are those custom-designed for a buyer or an event.

Chapin is the son of Schuyler Chapin, former general director of the Metropolitan Opera, and the grandson of Engelhart Steinway, one of the founders of the piano company.

In October 2004, Moravian College hosted another art case Steinway instrument: the “Peace Piano,” designed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair by Walter Dorwin Teague and rebuilt for an international tour to raise money for UNICEF. The piano spent a day on campus and was played by Moravian music students and faculty as well as professional and amateur musicians from the Lehigh Valley community.

The second event of the At-Home Steinway Series is already planned. It will be at the home of series co-chair Richard Groman, co-owner of Technicolor Day Spas. His parents owned Groman’s Bakery, a Lehigh Valley fixture until 1981. Groman is a collector of player pianos, player-piano recordings, and sheet music of the player-piano era. His huge living room holds a Steinway & Sons grand that once was a player piano, as well another grand piano and space for a pipe organ.

Tickets for the inaugural event are $150 each or $250 per couple. Seating is extremely limited: Mrs. Schultz’s piano room will hold about 55 people. Invitations to Music Alliance members went out in March, with a response deadline of April 22. Others interested in attending should request an invitation from 610 861-1336, and they should observe the April 22 response date.

In addition to Jacobs Music Company, the At-Home Steinway Series is sponsored by Rob-Win Press Inc. of Allentown and John J. Zeiner & Sons, piano tuners and restorers of Allentown.