Tickling the ivories

Southeastern Piano Festival showcases its winners Saturday

June 21, 2014 

The Southeastern Piano Festival concludes Saturday.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com Buy Photo

Remember the piano lessons your parents made you take? If you can still dazzle your friends with a couple of showy pieces now and then, you’re ahead of the game. Most of us reach our peak of confidence with “Heart and Soul.”

That’s can’t be said for the piano virtuosos who have been in Columbia all week to participate in the Southeastern Piano Festival and the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. These young men and women can play Bach in their sleep. To even enter the competition, they need to be able to play, from memory, both a piano concerto and a solo piece for piano.

If you haven’t attended any of the concerts and performances held over the past week, you’ve got one more chance: on Saturday, June 21, the winners of the competition – the next generation of concert pianists – will perform. And the tickets are only $10.

Although the performers are the stars of the show, the pianos they play are complicated works of art themselves. We’ve compiled a Liszt – sorry, a list of interesting facts about the Steinway Grand pianos that will be played throughout the week:

• Heinrich Steinway built his first piano in the kitchen of his home in Germany. It’s currently housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

• In 1956, Steinway joined other major piano manufacturers began using plastic, instead of ivory, for the piano keys.

• The rim that runs around the edge of a Steinway concert grand piano is made of 18 layers of maple and takes eight months to produce.

• There are 12,000 parts in a Steinway grand piano.

• The Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition Winners Concert will be held in the USC School of Music’s Recital Hall. For more information, visit sepf.music.sc.edu

Katie McElveen, Special to The State

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