Steinway & Sons to receive Applause Award at President’s Concert
On Sat., April 26, Belmont University President Bob Fisher will present the 2008 Applause Award to Steinway & Sons, an occasion which will also officially announce Belmont’s intent to become an “All-Steinway School” with the purchase of approximately 70 additional pianos from Steinway. The new pianos will be used in Belmont performance venues, practice rooms and faculty studios. The funds to replace older instruments and to purchase the new Steinway additions represent a gift of more than $2 million from the Merrydale Woods estate, a bequest which will also provide new endowed scholarships for future piano students.
Belmont is one of only 88 colleges, universities, conservatories or schools world-wide to have the distinction of being an All-Steinway School. Other All-Steinway representatives include Julliard and the Yale School of Music. All-Steinway Schools must demonstrate a commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculties with the best equipment possible for the study of music. With the purchase of new pianos, Belmont’s highly acclaimed School of Music will boast only Steinway-designed pianos throughout campus.
Dr. Cynthia Curtis, Dean of Belmont’s School of Music, said, “The School of Music is proud to join the distinguished list of institutions that are All-Steinway. With this decision we provide our students with the finest pianos for both practice and performance. The generous and greatly appreciated gift of Merrydale Woods will live on in the education of Belmont music students.”
The Applause Award, presented last year to Martha Ingram, is given annually to a person or organization which has greatly benefited music or the arts community in general. For more than 150 years, Steinway has made the world’s finest pianos. Founded in a New York City loft by German immigrant Henry Englehard Steinway, the company grew quickly after its inception in 1853. Steinway’s revolutionary designs and superior workmanship quickly won the respect and admiration of the world’s great pianists. Today, Steinway & Sons crafts approximately 5,000 pianos a year worldwide, and over 1,300 prominent concert artists and ensembles bear the title “Steinway Artist.”
The $2 million Woods’ bequest will create endowed scholarships for Belmont music students and will provide first-class pianos for future Belmont students wishing to study music and piano. Merrydale Sutherland Woods was married to Hunter Woods, a successful businessman, for 68 years until his death in 2005. Since he traveled often and the couple had no children, Mrs. Woods decided early in her marriage to occupy her time by teaching piano lessons in her home in Green Hills, a suburb of Nashville. She started playing by ear as a child and then took classical lessons for 13 years. When entertaining guests in her home, one of her favorite things to do was to play by ear a medley of songs from Broadway musicals on her own cherished Steinway. Over the course of her lifetime, Mrs. Woods literally taught hundreds of students to play the piano, and she decided to pass on the opportunity for studying piano to future Belmont University students.
Before she died in May 2007, Mrs. Woods said, “When I was redoing my will, my attorney talked very highly of Belmont, and we both agreed it was a good place to leave a legacy. I hope the endowed scholarship fund will help others enjoy the music making I’ve enjoyed over the years… I now know that my life has had a greater purpose—that after my death there will be young people at Belmont who will be able to pursue their passion for music, and that makes me feel good.”