Archive for Friday, July 9, 2010

‘Rolls-Royce’ of pianos enhances competition

A fancy piano that allows musicians to access a fuller range of musical expression is on loan to Kansas University. The piano will be on campus for one month as young musicians from across the country descend on Lawrence.

July 9, 2010


Artisan explains piano history

Master Piano Artisan Don Mannino explains the history behind the Shigeru Kawai piano on loan at KU. There are about 10 Shigeru Kawai concert grand pianos made each year. Enlarge video

Piano event returns to KU

A list of events open to the public during the upcoming IIYM summer music academy. Except when noted, events are free.


10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Seventh IIYM Piano Competition Semifinals, Swarthout Recital Hall.


3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Seventh IIYM Piano Competition Finals, Swarthout Recital Hall.

Saturday, July 17

2 to 4 p.m., IIYM Piano Competition Winners Concert, Swarthout Recital Hall. Tickets are $12/adults, $10/students and seniors, and can be purchased by calling 864-3436 or visiting the KU School of Music, Room 460. Tickets will also be available at the door.

July 14, 21 and 28

IIYM Honors Recitals. 6:30 p.m. July 14 and 21 in Swarthout Recital Hall; 7 p.m. July 28 at the Hall Center for the Humanities.

July 15-16, 19-20, 22-23, 26-27, 29

IIYM Student Recitals, 6:30 p.m., Swarthout Recital Hall.

Saturday, July 24

3 p.m., public concert at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave., Topeka.

As talented young pianists descend on Lawrence next week for an international competition, they’ll be tickling some pretty fancy ivories.

The Kawai America Piano Corp. is loaning an EX Shigeru Kawai to the KU School of Music for a month, during the upcoming International Institute for Young Musicians competition.

That event, scheduled for Sunday through July 24, will bring 75 of the world’s best young musicians to Law-rence for intensive study, practice and performance.

The Kawai company even sent a master piano artisan, Dan Mannino, to spend a couple of days on the piano, making sure every detail is perfect.

Mannino flew in from California and will spend a couple of days fine-tuning the sound. On Thursday afternoon, he was focused on just how many millimeters the keys could be depressed before they created a tone.

Top-notch pianists can make performance adjustments on just about any piano, Mannino said, but it’s his job to make sure they don’t have to.

“It’s very analogous to a race car,” he said. “Taking the time to take care of all these extra details, it can take off a few seconds of the race.”

Able to tell the difference between a 10-millimeter depression and a 10.2-millimeter depression by feel alone, Mannino corrected any imperfections by inserting and removing small paper disks under the keys, color-coded for their thickness.

The result of all that work? A piano that has a rare combination of a mellow, yet powerful sound, said KU piano professor Jack Winerock. Only about 10 of the EX Shigeru Kawai pianos are made each year.

“I’m not a car person, but it’s really like we’re getting a Rolls-Royce,” Winerock said.


Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm prejudiced because I always thought that Steinway was the Rolls Royce of pianos, and not an import from Japan. Although Bosendorfers, an import from Austria, are also in the running.

Plus, Steinways, built in New York, are much more expensive.

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