A Versatile, Vibrant Boston Grand Inspires Bethany Lutheran College

MANKATO, MN– A new Boston grand piano is winning praises as a proven performer at Bethany Lutheran College, where faculty and students are embracing the dream of becoming an All-Steinway School.

The private Christian liberal arts college took delivery of a GP-178 Performance Edition II from Schmitt Music-Edina. “I’ve heard from students about what a pleasure it is to perform on a highly responsive instrument and our faculty who appreciate how it encourages and enables excellence in performance,” says Dr. Bethel Balge, who recently appeared as guest artist for two All-Steinway fundraisers at churches in Oxford and Naples, Florida. She received her DMA from the University of Minnesota and studied piano at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University and the University of Frankfurt.

Professors Bethel Balge and Dennis Marzolf, with the new Boston GP-178, envision a day when Bethany Lutheran College joins the roster of All Steinway Schools in Minnesota.
Art, music and theatre converge at the Ylvisaker Fine Arts Center, home of the Anna John Silbur Recital Hall and Sigurd K. Lee Theater.

“What I find most appealing about our new Boston is a clean, vibrant sound that works well with all styles of music,” she adds. “In both sound and touch, there is an elasticity that allows for crisp articulation, smooth blending of tones, broad dynamic range and quick, ready response.”

Those rich characteristics can be partially attributed to a large soundboard in the 5-foot- 10-inch GP-178, whose advanced wide tail construction offers the same soundboard area as many 6-foot- 2-inch grand pianos. The Steinway-designed Boston has reduced string tension – that coupled with a tapered soundboard – creates longer sustain and superb tonal qualities.

“Having the best matters for practice pianos because that is where excellence in performance begins.”

She believes it is “vitally important” to provide the best possible pianos for her students and faculty. “One might think first of the performance instrument, understandably and rightly so. But having the best matters also for practice pianos because that is where excellence in performance begins,” she says. “The professor needs an instrument on which any nuance can be demonstrated to give the student a sense of not only what’s artistically best, but also what’s practical and possible. When students return to the practice room, they need an instrument that responds as readily as the instrument in their professor’s studio does.”

Dr. Balge is working closely with Alice Tillman, Schmitt’s institutional specialist, as the school aims to replace 17 of 19 aging pianos on campus. “Our goal is being well received as it fits the high standard of excellence Bethany sets for – and gets from – its students,” she says, noting pianos are the primary tools for music theory, ear training and performance classes. The All-Steinway campaign is not exclusive to piano performance majors, as every music student uses a piano each day.

“Alice and (Schmitt vice president) Tom Wennblom have been wonderful. They are knowledgeable and experienced, engaged and encouraging,” says Dr. Balge. “They are excellent in anticipating my questions and the needs of the campaign.” An All-Steinway designation would mean that “even more top-notch students are attracted to an excellent music program.”

Bethany Lutheran College evolved from Bethany Ladies College, which opened its doors in 1911 with 44 students and only four teachers. In 1927, the Norwegian Synod, later the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, purchased the school. Bethany Lutheran College began offering baccalaureate degrees in 2001.

the piano with Steinway DNA

Whether dazzling at the concert hall, woodshedding in the practice room, or exploring the joy of music at home, the Steinway-designed Boston brings the genuine world-class tone and responsiveness within reach.

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