It was the sort of scene you don’t see every day: a lawn full of pianos at Illinois Wesleyan University.
As part of the IWU School of Music’s instrument replacement program, some 36 shimmering, black, upright grand pianos from Steinway & Sons of New York arrived Tuesday when a semitrailer truck pulled into the back of Presser Hall on the Bloomington campus.
IWU is replacing 36 upright grand practice pianos and four full grand pianos in practice rooms and professors' studios at the school.
David Horine, owner of Horine's Pianos Plus and staff piano technician for IWU, said the replacement of most of the school’s pianos with Steinways will enable the school to earn a coveted All-Steinway School designation.
IWU owns about 120 pianos for its students and faculty to practice on, including 60 grand pianos.
The school received a $3.5 million gift from the C.B. Frevert Family Trust to enable the purchase.
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“We were able to negotiate the price a bit by trading our old pianos with Steinway,” Horine said. “They’ll refurbish the older pianos and most likely sell them to the public.”
The piano replacement will occur in three phases, Horine said.
Students’ reactions were predictably euphoric.
“I just want to go in there and touch one,” said Andy Wang, a music student from Beijing who plays the violin, as he waited to use a practice room being equipped with a new piano.