Lock Haven University Earns Status as an “All Steinway School”

LOCK HAVEN - It was a proud day for the local university as well as a local family.

Lock Haven University celebrated its official status as an all-Steinway campus Friday with a concert and program, during which Margery Brown Krevsky received a standing ovation for spearheading the campaign.

She attended the concert with her mother, Jane Brown of Lock Haven, who had the pleasure of hearing her granddaughter Suzanne Ballard, Margery’s niece, play the concert grand.

Mrs. Brown said the family’s musical strain goes back a number of generations, to her own grandmother and her piano at her home in Philadelphia.

All of the university’s 21 Steinways - 15 uprights, four grands and the concert grand - were on display for the celebration in the Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center’s ballroom.

Krevsky also was honored with a gold Steinway pin, presented by Vic Geiger, Steinway & Sons representative. “There aren’t many of the pins in circulation,” he said, “fewer than there are Super Bowl rings.”

Faculty member Dr. David Curtin was among the talented pianists who serenaded the audience. He will soon be certified as a Steinway Artist, Krevsky said. When he and his wife, Hyun Ju Curtin, receive the honor, they will be the only such musicians in all of central Pennsylvania, according to Alysha Sides Greevy of Steinway dealer Robert M. Sides.

“It’s one of the highest accolades you can have,” Dr. Curtin said. “All the great artists going back 100 years or more were Steinway artists.”

The company manufactures the only truly handmade pianos in the world, which, he said, are the gold standard of the instrument.

“At least 95 percent of all classical pianists choose a Steinway,” he said. “It’s like the Louisville Slugger.”

Curtin, Suzanne and student Abe Nickel proved what the university’s Steinway Model D concert grand can do. The fine instruments are said to have their own personalities and voices, and this one gave forth a wide range of emotions, from sweet to ringing, under their talented fingers.

Suzanne has been playing the piano since she was little, she said, practicing on the same piano that had been her grandmother’s. Both Krevsky and her sister, Joan Ballard, also practiced their lessons on the family Steinway. (“It’s the first piece of furniture I remember,” Krevsky said.)

Joan proved to have more talent, her sister said, and received their mother’s piano as a gift. In the Ballard household, it helped spark Suzanne’s interest in music.

“My mom would play the piano and I would just bug her,” Suzanne recalled.

Perhaps the instrument will be hers someday and delight a new generation.

Suzanne started her university studies at Shippensburg, but transferred to Lock Haven for the music program, she said. She has one semester left before earning her Bachelor of Arts in Music.

She particular enjoys Romantic music and played her favorite piece, Brahms’ Intermezzo in A. Her family surprised her with roses afterward.

“She plays so lyrically,” Nickel said of his fellow student.

He prefers classical music for its eloquence, he said, and is studying at LHU with a carillon scholarship.

A general contractor, he recently followed his brother to Lock Haven from Arizona. Both like this region, but the move came “six months before the economy pulled the rug out from under us,” Nickel said. “I’m viewing it as a blessing because it allowed me to come back to school.”

One of his teachers told him, “‘If you can get music out of you, then you shouldn’t be in it,’” he recalled. “I tried to get out of it and just keep it as a hobby. It didn’t work.”

“It becomes a part of you,” Suzanne said.

Earning the designation of an all-Steinway campus is part of the university’s ongoing development of arts programs and dovetails with its new Music Education major which has recently earned certification.

Krevsky enjoys championing the arts, she said, and the fact that her efforts for the all-Steinway designation are bearing fruit just as her niece is studying here is serendipitous.

“I was so delighted we could have the pleasure of this day with Suzanne,” Mrs. Brown said.

She also continues her love of music and now plays the organ.

“I miss my piano, but I gave it away to a better use!” she said with a smile for her granddaughter.

Krevsky, a Lock Haven University alumna, furthered her studies in New York and in 1981 opened a talent management agency. After 28 years, she said, “It got to be time to give something back.”

A resident of Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit, she makes many trips here to visit family, and when she became a member of the LHU Foundation Board, she immediately asked about arts opportunities. Mahlon Grass, department chair, and LHU President Dr. Keith T. Miller presented her with the all-Steinway concept, she said, and “once I heard it, I knew it was a good idea.”

“We have to be on the leading edge of what we do,” Miller said in opening the concert. “We have to be, for our students… This all-Steinway celebration represents exactly that - we are on the leading edge and we’re going to stay there. We’re going to make our students, faculty, staff and alumni proud as we get even better and move into the next decade.”

Indiana University of Pennsylvania and West Chester University also are all-Steinway schools, but LHU was able to earn the designation faster than either of them, Miller said, in spite of “challenging times.”

“When I started this four years ago, I had no idea we’d be in this position today,” he said.

Geiger presented him with the official Steinway & Sons plaque, something Miller and Krevsky took a moment to admire together after the program.

“It’s a new focus on the arts,” Krevsky said of the Music Education major. “We’ve certainly had a great focus on academia, a great focus on athletics… think about all the great free concerts people can come to hear.”

The next project may be a piano competition on campus, an idea that came up on during an LHU visit to Steinway Hall in Manhattan.

“It’s always exciting in life to accomplish something,” her mother said. “We’ve got this wonderful building here that should be filled with warmth and love.”

Dr. George Durrwachter, president of the LHU Foundation Board of Directors, credited Mrs. Brown for making this day possible.

“Thank you for giving us Marjery!” he said.

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