February 21, 2018  

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New Pianos Bring Excitement to Students, Faculty in School of Music

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Southern Miss Associate Professor of Music Elizabeth Moak performs with fellow faculty members and students on one of 10 new pianos the School of Music recently received. (University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

University of Southern Mississippi Professor of Music Lois Leventhal uses an analogy to capture the excitement of seeing 10 new pianos arrive on the Hattiesburg campus: “It’s like a writer having the proper pen,” she said.

Thanks to a partnership with the Kawai Piano Company, the Southern Miss School of Music received the new loaner pianos that will be purchased at a substantial discount as part of a bigger effort to eventually replace all of the old pianos with new ones.

“Having these pianos in hand gives us all a burst of energy in the School of Music,” said Leventhal. “And it’s something that is long overdue. We have pianos that are 25, 30 years old and older. When you don’t have the best instruments available for classroom instruction and private practice, then the students suffer.”

Several faculty members joined a handful of undergraduate students for a special musical number and official unveiling of the pianos on Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Mannoni Performing Arts Center. School of Music piano technician Lonnie Young noted the significance of the moment provided through the Elite Performing Instrument Collection (EPIC).

“This is the first time in history that we’ve been able to arrange an agreement such as this,” he said. “And these are brand, new pianos just out of the shipping cartons. These are the highest quality pianos that can be used for concerts, orchestral arrangements or any other related event.”

Piano performance major Pamela Finch could barely contain her enthusiasm after playing a few notes on one of the glossy black upright pianos. Finch, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Miss in 1991, has returned to pursue her lifelong dream.

“Piano has always been my true passion and I’m getting a second chance to fulfill a dream I’ve always had,” said Finch, who hopes to finish her degree requirements within a year. “It’s just a wonderful, exciting opportunity to have these new pianos in the School of Music. I know it means a lot to the faculty and I definitely means a great deal to all the students.”

In cooperation with the USM Foundation, a private and corporate fundraising initiative is planned to start immediately with the goal of $500,000 to replace the old pianos and help pay for the new ones. To donate contact the Southern Miss School of Music at 601.266.5543 or visit www.usm.edu/music