UMSL Department of Music earns coveted All-Steinway designation


UMSL is now one of about 230 schools across the world to hold the All-Steinway designation. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis Department of Music just earned a major feather in its cap.

Steinway & Sons, makers of world-class pianos for nearly 170 years, recently gave the department the elite designation as an All-Steinway School. As the name implies, All-Steinway Schools exclusively work with Steinway pianos and, by doing so, “demonstrate a full commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculties with the best instruments possible for the study of music,” according to the company.

Department of Music Chair Joanna Mendoza said that the designation is an incredible honor for UMSL, noting that the university shares this coveted status with only about 230 schools in the world. In addition to signaling the quality of UMSL’s music program, the designation also plays a major role in recruitment and attracting prospective students.

“The Steinway name is so famous and highly regarded,” she said. “It’s really the pinnacle of pianos as an instrument and as a symbol of quality and excellence, not just for the instruments but for the players associated with them. This is a huge honor to be included in the schools that use Steinways exclusively. It’s really exciting for what we can offer our students, our faculty and our guest artists.”

The Department of Music has been working to earn All-Steinway status for nearly 10 years, but the process has been stalled due to various factors over the years such as budget constraints and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Mendoza said the achievement was only made possible due to concerted efforts between UMSL administration, the Office of Development, university donors, the music faculty and UMSL’s Steinway representative Sue Lutz.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to our former chancellor Tom George and former Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Music Barbara Harbach,” she said. “They essentially spearheaded the All-Steinway effort and made significant contributions toward its funding over the years. We’re just thrilled that the support was there and stayed there. This was a real team effort. It really takes a village, and it meant so much that so many people were really supporting this effort. We hope that it will show the community and our supporters just the level of quality and excellence at UMSL and in the Department of Music.”

Mendoza is currently working with the university to plan an official event in celebration of the honor, but details are still forthcoming. In the meantime, though, news of the designation is already making waves throughout the Department of Music.

“I know that when the pianists found out – our piano majors and non-majors – they were so excited,” she said. “It’s just something that they feel very proud of every time they walk into a practice room. When they practice, when they have their lessons, when they perform, they know that they’re playing the best pianos that are out there.”


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