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Generous Gift Provides Superior Quality Steinway Pianos for UConn’s Music Students

The gift also moves UConn closer to prestigious All-Steinway School designation

“Acquiring the best possible musical instruments for our piano students is the equivalent of our biology students having the best equipment in the lab,” says Angelina Gadeliya, director of keyboard studies and professor of piano in the UConn School of Fine Arts. “Being able to get a beautiful quality sound is so vital for the success of all of our music students.”

This is why Gadeliya says a recent gift to fund the purchase of 13 new Steinway upright pianos is so important. The support of the Lawrence J. and Natalie D. Portell Foundation, Persbacker Foundation, and Jean and Richard Widmark Foundation allows students to play pianos that are world renowned for their superior quality and sound.

“Steinway uses the best quality tools and materials out there to create a piano that has unrivaled tonal quality, unrivaled beauty, and a sound that has been described as coming the closest to the breathing human voice,” Gadeliya says.

Grace Nieh ’26 (SFA, EDU), a double major in piano performance and elementary education, appreciates having the opportunity to practice and perform on Steinway pianos because of the distinct difference between Steinways and other pianos.

“It’s a completely different experience than performing on other brands,” she says. “There’s definitely a greater dynamic range that you can’t replicate on other pianos.”

Sangwoo Park, a first-year doctoral student studying piano performance, agrees.

“The Steinway pianos have a really soft, warm tone,” he says. “When I play a Steinway piano, it’s really easy to control, so it’s helpful for me to perform and listen. It’s a great experience for me.”

The Portell, Persbacker, and Widmark Foundations’ gift also resulted in significant progress in UConn’s quest to becoming an All-Steinway School. The School of Fine Arts has worked for many years to reach this distinction, earned when at least 90% of an institution’s pianos are Steinways.

All-Steinway status is a prestigious accomplishment for music programs.

“There are not that many All-Steinway Schools, even among the top conservatories in the U.S. Acquiring the All-Steinway status will really set UConn apart,” Gadeliya says. “Having All-Steinway status will demonstrate to high level music students and faculty that we really value quality and try to provide the best possible opportunities and equipment to our students. This will make them much more competitive on the national and international stage.”

Currently, UConn is about 75% of the way to All-Steinway School status. The School of Fine Arts hopes to achieve this goal within the next few years. Donor support is crucial for the School’s ability to make this happen.

“Steinways enrich our community with incredible concert experiences. That’s what the beauty of music is, that it draws communities together and inspires them,” Gadeliya says. “Reaching All-Steinway status would also enrich the learning experiences of our students and show our commitment to excellence as an institution.”


Support The All-Steinway School Fund.