BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan University has been designated as an “All-Steinway School,” which school representatives say will enhance the student experience and bolster recruitment efforts.
Money from a $3.5 million gift from the C.B. Frevert Family Trust is being used to purchase pianos needed to achieve the designation.
“It wouldn't have been possible without the Frevert family gift,” said Vickie Folse, interim director of the IWU School of Music.
C.B. Frevert, an IWU graduate, died in December 2017 in Florida at age 79. Proceeds from the auction in November of farmland near Stanford that had been in the family since 1839 were divided among Home Sweet Home Ministries, the Salvation Army and IWU School of Music.
Frevert, who had a degree in music education, was a school teacher and played the organ for several churches in the Bloomington-Normal area. The gift was directed to be used for the school's keyboard program, said Folse.
The school is spending $1.3 million to purchase 35 Steinway & Sons pianos, said Folse.
One-third of the gift will be used for a scholarship endowment and the remaining $1 million will be used for an endowment for the continued purchase and repair of keyboard instruments, she said.
The pianos were ordered Friday and will be put in place over the summer, in time for fall semester, said Folse.
“We're grateful to have David Horine as our staff piano technician,” she said. “He will be the conductor of all of the moves.”
Horine said the purchase will “bring new life” to the faculty studios and practice rooms. The university has pianos as old as 132 years.
President Eric Jensen said, “By becoming an All-Steinway School, we give a very clear signal to our students, faculty and staff that Illinois Wesleyan University is committed to musical excellence. We're very grateful to Mr. Frevert for making this breakthrough possible.”
IWU joins 153 universities worldwide with the designation. The only other school in the area with the “All-Steinway” designation is Millikin University in Decatur.
Associate professor Ilia Radoslavov said, “This investment will positively impact not only our current students but also many more for generations to come.”
All functioning pianos that were gifts to the School of Music will remain, Folse said. The designation requires at least 90 percent of a school's pianos to be Steinways. The school will have 75 pianos after the transition is complete.