The LSU School of Music and the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, or GRFA, are making music together. A partnership between the state’s flagship university and the New Orleans-based arts education foundation aims to raise funds to help the School of Music restore and replace an aging fleet of 106 pianos used to teach nearly 600 music students.
To do this, GRFA will auction a one-of-a-kind Steinway piano, featuring the latest in piano technology as well as unique artwork created by famed Louisiana “Blue Dog” artist George Rodrigue.
The piano was officially unveiled during a special event held on Nov. 10 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which also featured a performance on the piano by Oscar Rossignoli, an LSU undergraduate music student from San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
“I'm very excited for the unveiling of this marvelous work of art,” said Stephen David Beck, Haymon Professor of Music and director of the LSU School of Music. “It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of this process and to witness the marriage of great visual and musical arts in such a unique form.”
Several years of budget cuts have drastically reduced the number of scholarships available for students to attend the LSU School of Music, and also eliminated funds that could be used to retire the current aged piano inventory and purchase new ones.
Laurence Kaptain, dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, said the partnership between the LSU School of Music and GRFA is based on the goal of transforming education in Louisiana through arts integration.
“The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts came to LSU through former Chancellor Mike Martin’s efforts to cultivate and collaborate with successful philanthropic, educational and artistic external entities,” Kaptain said. “What was launched in November 2011 was an exploration to assess the opportunities and challenges for a potential adaptation in Louisiana on the highly successful, research-based A+ Schools program. The Rodrigue Steinway Project is a manifestation of cooperation between the GRFA and LSU.”
“Our partnership with the LSU School of Music represents an exciting combination of the visual and performing arts,” said Jacques Rodrigue, Executive Director of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. “George Rodrigue’s Steinway piano is truly a unique and iconic work of art, and we hope it will inspire support for arts education around the country.”
The piano that Rodrigue painted is a vintage Steinway donated by the Hall Piano Co. of New Orleans, an authorized Steinway dealer.
"Steinway Pianos have always been associated with excellence,” said Steve Kinchen, president and co-owner of Hall Piano Co. “Their rich, unrivaled sound, incomparable tone and touch inspires students to realize their artistic talents, and best prepares them to compete at the highest level in the professional world. By providing the finest instruments possible for the study of music, institutions like LSU demonstrate their commitment to excellence at every level of the educational experience to their students, staff and audiences alike.”
The Rodrigue Steinway piano will tour nationally for two years, and ultimately be auctioned, with the proceeds divided between the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and the LSU School of Music. The piano also is set to appear in major presenting venues throughout the country to be played by major performers, as well as at college and professional sporting event halftime shows and concert halls.
With a full time professional staff, GRFA will be the primary planners for the transportation of the instrument, the auction process, bidding procedures and the final details regarding disbursement of funds. This will be done in affiliation and cooperation with the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts. While the exact timing and nature of the auction has not been determined, it is possible that the auction could take place in either 2014 or 2015. For more information, visit www.rodriguesteinway.com.
For more information on the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts’ fundraising efforts, contact Director of Development Miriam Overton at 225-578-8594 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts: Based in New Orleans, the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts advocates the importance of the visual arts in the development of our youth. GRFA encourages the use of art within all curriculums and supports a variety of art educational programs. In 2009, George Rodrigue formed GRFA as a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization. In addition to providing financial assistance in the arts and other areas, GRFA implements a series of unique educational art programs that are specially designed to enhance and expand art curriculums, despite continuing state and federal cutbacks. To learn more about the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, call 504-324-9614, email email@example.com or visit www.georgerodriguefoundation.org.
About Hall Piano Co.
Hall Piano Co. began in 1958 in New Orleans at the corner of Camp and Julia streets. Dan M. Hall and John D. Wright Sr. started the business with a primary emphasis on the restoration of fine quality grand pianos for the discriminating pianists and reconditioning of upright pianos for students. Hall Piano Co. has firmly established itself as a source for fine pianos as well as one of the leading houses of piano restoration in the country. Their continuing relationship with the prominent cultural arts institutions in New Orleans – such as the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Loyola University, Tulane University and The Baton Rouge Symphony to name a few – reflects a continuing commitment to the arts and arts education in Southern Louisiana. More information on Hall Piano is available online at www.hallpiano.com