Posted on October 6, 2009 by Tia Lalani

New Steinway Cause for Celebration – Recital Series to Begin October 15th

By Chantelle Olson

Not all pianos are alike.

The U of A’s Augustana Campus has been home to a quality 7-foot grand for years, but clearly the brand new Steinway in the chapel is something very special. The enthusiasm in Dr. Milton Schlosser’s voice is infectious, and his eyes have a definite sparkle as he describes his reaction to Augustana’s recent acquisition of the impressive 9-foot grand piano. For Milton, having this instrument on campus is quite literally a “dream come true.”

“I’m excited for the students – terribly excited,” he says. “They are the ones who really benefit from this.” Piano students considering masters degrees will encounter 9-foot grands at the larger institutions they attend, and to have the experience of playing on an instrument of this caliber at the undergraduate level will prove invaluable. In Milton’s opinion, the Steinway will also prove an effective recruitment tool, considering that larger university campuses in Alberta have 9 foot grand pianos. For a school of this size in a relatively small community to be able to make an investment on this scale is unprecedented. “I never thought I would see something like this at this institution,” Dr. Schlosser remarked. “This piano is for generations of students to value and cherish.”

Yes, the new piano is a big deal. And to celebrate this incredible milestone, a series of exciting concerts has been planned. The inaugural event features former Camrosian and Augustana alumnus Joel Harder at the piano, along with flautist Kathleen Schoen and soprano Kathleen Corcoran, both Augustana faculty. Corcoran and Harder will treat the audience to a selection of German Lieder by Brahms, Wolf and Strauss, featuring some of the best loved songs in the repertoire. Harder will also present a piece for solo piano by Francis Poulenc, and the concert will conclude with Harder and Schoen performing the boisterous and virtuosic sonata for flute and piano by Sergei Prokofiev. It should prove to be an evening of wonderful and collaborative music making!

Dr. Schlosser went to New York back in May to choose the Steinway, and invited Joel, a former student currently studying at Juilliard, to come along and provide a second opinion. When it was decided to give the piano a sort of christening through a special series of concerts, Milton knew that he wanted Joel to perform the inaugural event. He sees the Steinway as a “student centered instrument” and hopes that Joel’s participation in the first recital will inspire piano students by giving them a taste of what they can look forward to after completing their undergrad studies.

Harder began his study of piano under the capable tutelage of Hedy Klause of Wetaskwin, one of the best piano teachers in Alberta, and went on to complete his first two years of his undergrad degree with Milton here at Augustana. Graduating with a Bachelor of Music with Distinction from the University of Alberta in 2002, Joel went on to receive Master’s Degrees from both the University of Ottawa and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he was also appointed as official staff accompanist. Currently he is a graduate student in the collaborative piano department at the Juilliard School in New York, studying with Jonathan Feldman and Margo Garrett.

The concert on October 15th is the first of a series that promises to be absolutely thrilling. The evening of November 20th, our very own Dr. Milton Schlosser will favour us with selections from Schumann and Maurice Ravel. On February 5th, Roger Admiral, who accompanies the Augustana choirs and teaches both at the Augustana and North campuses of the U of A, will give a recital featuring contemporary composers. And in March of 2010 renowned Canadian pianist Angela Cheng will perform. Consistently cited for her brilliant technique, tonal beauty and superb musicianship, Cheng is one of Canada’s brightest stars. She has appeared as soloist with virtually every orchestra in Canada. During her Camrose visit, Cheng will also teach a masterclass for Augustana students which will be open to the public.

The first recital featuring Harder, Corcoran and Schoen is slated for Thursday, October 15th at 7:30 pm in the Faith & Life Chapel on Augustana Campus. Proceeds from this event will help support the purchase of the new Steinway. The corporate sponsor for this recital is Burgar Funeral Home. Tickets are $20 (adults) and $15 (students/seniors). They are available in advance at the Augustana Bookstore and Candler Art Gallery. For further information, please call the Augustana Fine Arts Office at 780-679-1532.

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