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Neely Bruce, professor of music, plays the new, seven-foot August Foerster piano inside the Memorial Chapel Sept. 29.
Posted 10.05.06

A Sweet Sound: Chapel Receives New Piano

The secret is in the strings.

That’s how Professor of Music Neely Bruce defends the exceptionally clear sounds of Wesleyan’s new chapel piano.

“This piano is extraordinarily beautiful, and quite different from the Steinway sound you may associate with a grand piano,” Bruce explains. “It is clearer, more agile, more evenly balanced and is the perfect size for the chapel. It is the best piano of its size on campus.”

The new August Foerster is a brand that’s legendary in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe. It’s the same type of piano that was favored by Serge Prokofiev, Emil Gilels, and most of the major Russian pianists of the first half of the 20th century.

The Music Department, with help from the Administration, purchased the $38,000, seven-foot instrument from piano dealer Wilhelm Gertz.

Three years ago, when the Memorial Chapel reopened, the department intended to move one of its 9-foot grand pianos into the space, however this proved impossible. A smaller Mason and Hamlin piano has been in use, but Bruce felt the piano was not appropriate for the chapel’s magnificent public space.

“The chapel piano is not just a concert instrument, it is used for weddings, funerals and memorials and campus worship,” Bruce says. “Many of you will appreciate that our community has this new resource.”

To introduce the new piano to the community, Bruce played a short recital Sept. 25 in the chapel.

“We are very privileged to have this great piano at Wesleyan,” he says.

(To hear the piano, view the video clips below of Neely Bruce playing.)

      
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor