On December 3, 2009, President Obama and a group of world-renowned performers were on hand for the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. In a tradition dating back to 1923, the President was on hand at the Ellipse near the White House to light the tree while bringing a message of peace and hope to the world.
For this year’s event, a group of talented performers were selected to perform, including Steinway Artist Brad Mehldau, Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow, hip-hop artist Common, country artist Ray LaMontagne, American Idol Jordin Sparks, jazz artist Joshua Redman, and the all-female music ensemble Celtic Woman.
All of the event’s performers who played piano or had piano accompaniment used a Steinway Model D concert grand piano (identification number CD-381) that is part of Steinway’s famed bank of Concert & Artist pianos stationed around the world at Steinway dealers. The piano was delivered from Steinway Piano Gallery in Washington, DC for the event and technicians spent over 9 hours preparing the piano so it would be in perfect playing condition for the performances.
Steinway and the White House have a long and storied history. In 1903, the 100,000th Steinway grand piano was presented to the White House as a gift. It was featured in the East Room of the White House until 1938, when it was replaced by the 300,000th Steinway grand — an Art Case piano with gilt American Eagle supports that is undoubtedly the most famous piano in the White House. The 1938 grand piano is still featured in the East Room (and sometimes in the Entrance Hall) of the White House. The original 1903 grand piano now resides in the Smithsonian Museum.
The next stop for the Steinway concert grand piano used at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It is one of three Steinway grand pianos that are being provided for the Kennedy Center Honors Program, which will be televised on CBS, Tuesday, January 29 at 9 p.m. EST.