UWF receives gift to become an “All-Steinway School”

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

PENSACOLA – The University of West Florida announced today the receipt of a significant gift from Helen Wentworth which has allowed the UWF Department of Music to purchase 18 Steinway pianos (10 grand pianos and eight uprights) and receive the prestigious designation of “All-Steinway School.” The remainder of the gift will initiate a “Steinway Piano Foundation” endowment ensuring the future maintenance, repair and restoration of the pianos for many years to come. This gift represents one of the largest cash donations by a living person to the UWF Foundation.

By becoming an “All-Steinway School,” UWF will be one of only two schools in the state of Florida that have obtained this designation and will join the ranks of esteemed music programs around the country such as The Juilliard School, Yale University School of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory.

“We (UWF) are on a quest to become the best regional comprehensive university in America,” said John Cavanaugh, UWF president. “By 2010 the quality of UWF will be recognized not only by our students, alumni and community, but also by national leaders and bench-marking organizations. Becoming an ‘All-Steinway School’ has allowed the Department of Music to take a large step in achieving this goal.”

Steinway is known throughout the world for its high standard of excellence. Its products are considered the best keyboard instruments for training students and are the choice of 90 percent of the world’s performing concert pianists. 

“We coined the phrase ‘…On Our Way, All-Steinway School by 2008,’ said Kyle Marrero, chair, Department of Music. “I don’t think any of us dared to dream that one person would make all of this come to fruition. Mrs. Wentworth has made it happen! Her generosity will have the single greatest impact on the Department of Music, its future growth and success. Her gift will resound through the practice rooms, teaching studios, rehearsal halls and performance venues at UWF for many years to come.” 

Wentworth, accompanied by members of the Music Department faculty and Martha Lee Blodgett from the Office of Development, traveled to New York Dec. 20 and 21, 2006. The purpose of the trip was to select five of the 10 grand pianos (four Steinway B’s and one Steinway D). Wentworth was honored and received a commemorative gold Steinway pin at a dinner with Steinway CEO, Bruce Stevens Dec. 20.  The trip was topped off with a guided private tour of the Steinway factory. Also on Dec. 20, the first 13 pianos were delivered to the UWF Music Department, with the five that were hand-picked being delivered on Jan. 2.  Dollarhide’s Music Center has been working non-stop to get everything unpacked, placed and tuned in time for the students’ return for the Spring Semester beginning Jan. 8. 

“This gift represents the love my late husband, Warren Wentworth, had for Steinway pianos and his wish to have a named legacy within the Department of Music at the University of West Florida,” said Wentworth. 

On Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m., the celebration will continue with the “All-Steinway School” Student Showcase Concert in the Music Hall in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA). This concert will feature current UWF piano students and special guest, UWF 2006 alumnus, Martin Tate. A representative from Steinway will be in attendance to officially declare the UWF Department of Music an “All-Steinway School.” Approval will be sought to officially name the UWF Department of Music Piano Program “The Warren and Helen Wentworth ‘All Steinway School’ Piano Program.”

Donations for the “Steinway Piano Foundation” endowment account are still being accepted and will ensure that the pianos are properly cared for and maintained for generations to come.  For more information on how you can help, contact the UWF Development Office at (850) 474-2758 or call the Department of Music at (850) 474-2147.

For media inquiries, contact Jerre Brisky, CFPA assistant director, at (850) 857-6057 or e-mail jbrisky@uwf.edu.

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