Spirio | r stirs emotional response to piano legends at Trinity University
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – The Texas Lottery was not calling, but Dr. David Heller was about to strike institutional gold in the shape of a seven-foot Steinway grand piano. Alumnae Janet Dicke just finished reading an article in USA Today and phoned the chair of music, asking if he might be interested in a state-of-the-art Spirio | r for Trinity University.
“I told her I heard about this cloud-based technology – recreating past performances with video while offering cutting-edge recording and playback capabilities,” Dr. Heller recalls, “so I responded with an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ ”
Janet and her husband, Trustee Emeritus Jim Dicke, whose tremendous generosity elevated Trinity to All-Steinway status, planned on visiting San Antonio for spring 2018 commencement. Dr. Heller suggested a trip to the Steinway Piano Gallery, where Institutional Director Deborah Moore could demonstrate the potential of Spirio | r and how it would change the face of piano studies. “Janet and Jim ordered one for their home in Ohio, and we ordered one for the university,” Dr. Heller notes. The Dickes selected a Model M Spirio | r and gifted a Model B Spirio | r to Trinity.
A dedication ceremony in February 2019 allowed students and faculty an opportunity to thank the donors in person. “During the presentation, one of our students was moved to tears listening and seeing Emil Gilels, Vladimir Horowitz and William Kapell,” notes Dr. Carolyn True, professor of piano. “It was overwhelming to experience these and other legendary pianists.”
“During the presentation, one of our students was moved to tears listening and seeing Emil Gilels, Vladimir Horowitz and William Kapell,”
A fascinating new tool for academic investigation, Spirio | r offers access to hundreds of historical pianists to help students understand the context and significance of their performances. “It enhances classes in Piano Literature, Music History, Jazz History and Styles, Piano Ensemble, Piano Pedagogy, and Chamber Music,” Dr. True says. “Our students are most intrigued when they can record and listen to an authentic reproduction of what they just played.”
In 2013, the Dickes made an incredible gesture by donating 34 new instruments to Trinity. Among them was “Jim,” a nine-foot Model D concert grand that was custom-designed at the Steinway factory with maroon accents to mesh with Trinity’s colors. Today, the school maintains a stunning fleet of 43 Steinway & Sons pianos that line the halls of the Dicke-Smith Music and Arts building.
“Jim and Janet Dicke have transformed the music program, first with their initial gift helping us achieve status as an All-Steinway School, and then with separate endowments for the care of our pianos in the future,” Dr. Heller says. “This latest gift of a Steinway Spirio | r is just the latest example of their love and devotion for both the arts as well as their alma mater, Trinity University. We are deeply blessed by their presence in our lives, and the Trinity community is forever grateful for their generosity!”