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Music Department in Tune With Steinway

October 9, 2006

Fran Simon

When the floodwaters receded, Tulane music professor Faina Lushtak discovered the entire first floor of her home had soaked in eight feet of water. Above all, she mourned the loss of her "friend," a $60,000 Steinway grand piano she had owned for 18 years.


Tulane music department's Faina Lushtak, left, and Barbara Jazwinski with one of two new Steinway concert grand pianos that will be featured in tonight's debut of the Concert Piano Series. (Photo by Rick Olivier)

Adding to the misery was the damage sustained by the pianos in the university's music department. Lushtak, a pianist and composer who has been on the Tulane faculty for nearly 25 years, spent the months during her evacuation giving piano concerts and teaching master classes in Canada, Chicago and California.

"That was my refuge. Otherwise, I would have gone completely crazy," Lushtak says, adding, "But, as in life, everything has two sides."

With support from the Tulane administration, the music department's chair Barbara Jazwinski and Lushtak recently were able to select 21 brand-new pianos during a trip to the Steinway & Sons factory in New York. The music department has joined an elite group of music schools internationally that are designated as All-Steinway Schools.

"Steinway is one of the most renowned and coveted brands in the world. The craftsmanship is extraordinary. The vast majority of concert halls in the world have Steinway pianos," explains Jazwinski, who is also a composer and pianist. "The All-Steinway School designation projects the image that we're very serious about music at Tulane and we are committed to having the best instruments in the best possible condition each time they're used, not only for concerts but also for the students in our teaching studios and in our practice rooms."

As part of the Steinway family, the music department will have access once each year to the Steinway Hall in New York City.

"I'm looking forward to presenting our faculty and students to New Yorkers at this prestigious venue," says Jazwinski, who adds that the music department serves more than 1,000 students per semester and the number of music majors has been steadily increasing for the last three years.

One of Tulane's two new concert grand pianos will be inaugurated at the music department's 2006-2007 Concert Piano Series. The first performance, which is free and open to the public, will feature Ian Hobson tonight (Oct. 9) at 8 p.m. in Dixon Hall. Hobson is a British-born pianist who was a finalist in a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and took silver medals at the Arthur Rubinstein and the Beethoven International Competitions.

Also a conductor, Hobson is a Swanlund Endowed Professor of Music in the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois. Lushtak now is practicing both in her studio at Tulane and at home for the second performance in the Concert Piano Series on Tuesday, Nov. 14, when there will be a plaque presentation and an official announcement that the music department has become an All-Steinway School. Steinway representatives will be in attendance for this occasion.

Lushtak says she is blessed with two new Steinway grand pianos that sit side-by-side in her studio/office in the Dixon Hall annex where she provides individual instruction to students. In addition, Lushtak is delighted by the gift of a Steinway piano for her rented apartment that had been in the family of longtime friends and music patrons Michael and Betty Carey.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000