The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has become an ‘All Steinway’ music school. The Cardiff-based conservatoire joins the ranks of several music schools and universities who already enjoy this prestige. The RWCMD is understandably excited by this recent development, and one of their fourth-year students (and my ex-student), Amy Reynolds, participated in the special ceremony marking the occasion. In this guest post she recalls the highlights of the day.
RWCMD is officially a Steinway Exclusive conservatoire. When I began studying at RWCMD it was an unspoken law among pianists that we should only practice in the old building with the Steinway model A and B grand pianos. Only on rare and desperate occasions were we doomed to practice on the Essex pianos in the new building. I used to set alarms to book these grand piano rooms, and even then, I would miss out because someone booked the room quicker than me. So instead I started practicing very early on a morning, around 7.30am when the buildings first open, then I would be guaranteed the best pianos. The delivery of 24 new Steinway pianos has been met with a sigh of relief among piano students and instrumentalists alike. The demand on grand piano rooms has significantly reduced and there is more equality of practice facilities available to us now.
The delivery of 24 Steinway pianos includes:
- A second Model D Concert grand
- Four AS grand pianos
- A Spirio R, Model B, grand piano to allow remote learning and auditions including international masterclasses and lessons
- A Spirio O, with automated playback
- 17 Steinway upright pianos
I remember discussing the Essex pianos and the contract the college holds with Steinway and Sons with the Head of Keyboard, Simon Phillippo, during our keyboard student board meetings. Ideas were often floated around about the possibility of upgrading the Essex pianos to Bostons, which are designed by Steinway, but I never imagined that we would become a Steinway exclusive conservatoire.
In my opinion, the most exciting addition to our fleet is the Model R and O Steinway Spirio pianos which will revolutionise our learning experience.
RWCMD commissioned Julia Plaut to write a piece for the arrival of 24 new Steinway pianos, and she did a fantastic job. Julia used fragments of the Welsh folk song ‘The Bells of Aberdovey’ to give the pianos a warm welcome into their new home in Wales.
We were given the music in August and were told that due to Covid restrictions we would only have an hour to rehearse the piece before recording it, so we had to make sure that we really knew our parts inside out! Luckily the rehearsal went very smoothly, and it was a lot of fun.
The only way I can describe the atmosphere on that day is electric. There was such a buzz of joy and excitement from students, staff and alumni. It has to be the highlight of my time studying at RWCMD, and will be something that I will always treasure.
You can enjoy our performance, here:
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
For more information, please visit the publications page, here.