Gathering Around the Boston Grand Is a New Tradition at Family House
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Alexandra Morgan stood in awe as nearly 50 of her stressed-out guests absorbed soft strains of Bach and Mozart radiating from a beautiful new Boston piano in the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House.
Seeking refuge in a stormy sea of life’s uncertainties, the diverse group of parents and children listened with one heart as students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music graced the keys. A young father slipped quietly into the packed lobby with his toddler. “He looked like he was on another planet and the child was mesmerized,” says Ms. Morgan, chief executive of the internationally-known pediatric guest house. When the crowd dispersed after the 45-minute inaugural concert, the father confessed to her that he hadn’t felt such calm in months. “The music totally captivated his daughter and they weren’t playing Bugs Bunny tunes, either. It was the most beautiful thing.”
“Music creates a common experience that everyone can appreciate.”
An institutional landmark in the Bay Area for nearly 40 years, Family House supports the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital. It offers a haven for dozens of people coping with pediatric cancer, heart disease, organ transplants and neonatal issues. “They left their homes behind and this is their new community, so we try to make things as normal as possible,” she says. “Music creates a common experience that everyone can appreciate. It’s an uplifting way to connect people and take their minds off their immediate needs.”
In 2016, Family House moved into a new 92,000 square foot home and gained space to accommodate a music program. The state-of-the-art facility serves up to 80 families with multiple guest rooms, kitchens, living, dining and laundry rooms, a meditation room, basketball court and gym. “We realized we had this huge lobby and thought it would be wonderful to fill it with music,” she notes.
Ms. Morgan contacted Mike Schwartz, who along with his brother Eric once owned Sherman Clay & Company, an iconic Bay Area piano retailer. The brothers sold their piano business to Steinway & Sons in 2013, and Eric wasted no time to help one of his favorite charities. Riding his bicycle along the Embarcadero, he placed a call to Steinway CEO Ron Losby. It was Sherman Clay where Losby began his career in the retail piano business.
“This piano is turning into a centerpiece for our community”
“The next thing I know, we have this wonderful Boston baby grand,” she exclaims. The Schwartz’s teamed with Mary Bianco, a critically-acclaimed American composer and longtime friend of Family House, to purchase the piano. Meanwhile, the music initiative continues to gain traction. Conservatory students who need a place to practice now get a chance to hone their skills on a premium Steinway-designed piano. Violist extraordinaire Jessica Chang is also organizing a series of chamber music concerts. “And it’s gone far beyond inviting people from the outside. We have in-house talent that plays it, as well,” she says.
“This piano is turning into a centerpiece for our community. Despite all the different families from all the different places with diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds that come to us, music is the universal language,” she continues. “I owe Steinway, the Schwartz brothers and Mary Bianco a tremendous debt of gratitude for opening my eyes to something that after 18 years of running this place, I never knew would be so welcomed by our guests and staff.”
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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