St. Olaf College | News

Concert to feature college’s new concert grand piano

St. Olaf College is hosting a dedication concert for its new concert grand piano, the Bösendorfer 280VC. St. Olaf was the first college in the United States to purchase this model, and the third to take delivery. It is currently the only one of its kind in the entire Midwest.

There will be a pre-concert conversation starting at 6:30 p.m. on February 28 in Urness Recital Hall, where the piano will stay. The dedication recital will begin at 7:00 p.m. Both the pre-concert conversation and the recital will be streamed and archived online.

Dennis Johnson, St. Olaf College’s lead piano technician, carefully tunes the new Bösendorfer 280VC in Urness Recital Hall.

The entire St. Olaf piano faculty will perform selections from the solo repertoire at the concert. Then after intermission, Associate Professor of Music Christopher Atzinger — who led the search for the new instrument — will join members of the string faculty to perform the Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25.

The search process for a new concert grand piano began in fall 2018. Atzinger and the college’s head piano technician, Dennis Johnson, evaluated pianos in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles before selecting this model from Vienna, Austria. Professor of Music and Latin American Studies Nancy Paddleford also joined them for portions of the search.

Associate Professor of Music Christopher AtzingerWe were looking for an instrument that was better than just ‘excellent.’ We were looking for something that was truly special. So the bar was set quite high.

“We were looking for an instrument that was better than just ‘excellent.’ We were looking for something that was truly special,” says Atzinger. “So the bar was set quite high.”

The Bösendorfer 280VC model stood out because of the rich sound quality of the middle and high register and its overall tonal clarity. The instrument has a distinct Viennese sound, and its versatility allows it to work well in solo, chamber, and concerto settings. Having such an instrument will also benefit St. Olaf’s student pianists, as they prepare to enter the professional world where they will encounter pianos of various makes and models, including Bösendorfer.