Edmond man donates $100,000 piano to OCCC

October 21, 2011 Feature Print Print
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Rachel Morrison/Pioneer
Music Professor Ron Staton plays a Steinway concert grand piano in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.

A $100,000 9-foot Steinway concert grand piano was donated to OCCC this month. It will be used in the new theater currently being constructed.

The piano was shipped to Oklahoma from the Steinway piano factory located in Queens, N.Y., where it was prepped before being sent to OCCC. The piano is being used in the Visual and Performing Arts Center until the theater is completed.

OCCC President Paul Sechrist said the high-caliber piece of musical equipment is a tremendous gift to the college and its students.

“I’m so glad to be able to offer this type of instrument to our students,” Sechrist said. “To hear it, to see it, to play it or to practice on it, I think students who are not only here now, but in the future will benefit from having this instrument.”

Sechrist said OCCC needs the instrument which will project well in the college’s new Performing Arts Theater when it opens.

“We want to have our piano students to be able to play it and have it for performances,” he said.

Sechrist said Oklahoma City businessman Edward Krei came into Edmond Music with an idea of helping students with music instruments. After discussion with Edmond Music owner Mike Gilliam, Gilliam referred Krei to Sechrist. In the meeting, Sechrist talked about OCCC students, dreams for the new Performing Arts Theater and the college’s mission statement.

“Community college students should have the same access to the same equipment as university students,” Sechrist said, “whether it’s science lab equipment or music equipment. That’s why we are building a theater. (Students) should have a theater.

“Just because you choose a community college doesn’t mean you get short changed at all. You should be playing the best instruments in the world.”

Krei said he believes in the power of Sechrist’s message. Krei went to college on a music scholarship at the University of Mississippi where he played in band and met his wife. Krei said he attributes the quality of his education to his success in life.

“I believe if kids, no matter what the age group, could be exposed to music it would greatly enhance their education,” he said.

Sechrist said, since OCCC had the opportunity to select the piano, Sechrist asked music Professor Ron Staton to travel to the Steinway Piano factory to select the piano.

Staton described the selection of the Steinway as an “awesome experience.”

“What you do is you go to the factory and you select which one you want, because pianos play differently. They are not all the same,” Staton said.

“You go into the selection room, and they have a room full of concert grand pianos and you sit down and play until you find the one you like the best.”

Staton said he played a variety of different kinds of music on the piano to see which one exhibited the qualities he was looking for.

“I played some things to show the power of the bass, some things to show the clarity of the treble,” he said. “[And] some things to be able to play a large range of dynamics so we would have something that would be very loud and powerful that would carry the entire room.”

Staton said the new Steinway is the top-of-the-line in terms of quality musical equipment.

“It’s as good as it gets,” he said.

Sechrist said he agrees with Staton about the quality of the piano. Sechrist, who plays and owns a piano, joked about being eager to have the opportunity to play the new Steinway.

“I can’t wait. I hope [Staton] will let me play it now and again,” Sechrist said.

C.C Simon, music major, said she is equally as excited for the new piano.

“The fact that someone donated to the music program just shows how far the music program is going,” Simon said. “With the piano, it means more learning and more experience for [students].”

Sechrist said he believes the new Steinway and the new Performing Arts Theater will attract future music majors to the college.

“We have a world-class theater; we have the best piano in the world to play on,” he said. “This will attract more music majors to our school and give them the opportunity to not feel like choosing to come here as a music major will diminish your experience.”

To contact Joey Stipek, email onlineeditor@occc.edu.

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