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February 22, 2022

Extraordinary piano specified by ASU alumna will be utilized in new recording studio on downtown campus

Inside of Arizona Condition University’s new high-rise constructing in downtown Phoenix sits the crown jewel of the Well-known New music Program — a 9-foot, limited-version John Lennon “Imagine” grand piano.

The amazing instrument, signed by Yoko Ono, has an remarkable background. The hottest chapter in its tale is its donation to ASU by alumna Jeanne Blanchet, an author and musician.

Now, the live performance piano will be readily available to college students and college in the School of Songs, Dance and Theatre, as perfectly as anybody who records in the new studio at the Fusion on To start with setting up.

https://www.youtube.com/check out?v=MLRtOof4zQ8Movie of John Lennon (Restricted edition) Steinway Piano donation to ASU: Arizona State College (ASU)

Video clip by Ken Fagan/ASU News

Erin Barra, director of the Common Music Program, explained she was overjoyed when she read about the donation.

“I was psyched by the alternatives and what it signified and intended to have an instrument like this in our plan,” she mentioned.

“It’s really about what the piano represents, and to me it signifies the electric power of a music and a aspiration, and in a whole lot of approaches, what better north star for any college student or any individual who gets to get the job done in our areas to signify along the journey of what is attainable in your lifestyle and the electricity of songs and songwriting.”

Blanchet had the piano for about a 12 months ahead of she made a decision to donate it to ASU.

“I loved it incredibly significantly, but we moved into a further put and there wasn’t seriously house for it. And it’s this kind of a great instrument, it really should not just be in a private home tucked absent into a corner of a home,” mentioned Blanchet, who earned a master’s degree in art training from ASU.

“That’s when I believed it would make a wonderful donation,” she explained, happy at the considered that college students and faculty could appreciate it.

Jeanne Blanchet performed the piano each working day when it was in her home. But when she moved, she made a decision to donate the instrument to ASU, in which it now resides in the new Fusion on Initial recording studio in downtown Phoenix. Photograph by Charlie Leight/ASU News

‘I can’t feel this’

In 2010, the Steinway firm developed 175 pianos in its restricted-version “Imagine” series to mark what would have been the 70th birthday of John Lennon, who was shot and killed in 1980.

The Picture pianos were being modeled right after the white Steinway grand piano that Lennon presented to his spouse, Yoko Ono, on her birthday in 1971.

ASU’s piano was the to start with a person manufactured in the “D” products, the 9-foot grand pianos, and — like the many others — incorporates a plate with the opening notes to the tune “Imagine,” a plaque with Lennon’s signature and an illustration of Lennon on the tunes desk.

As Blanchet tells the story, the piano was acquired by Bernadette Gietka, a Maryland lady who won a $183 million lottery in 2003. Gietka wanted Yoko Ono to autograph the piano, which Ono agreed to do immediately after Gietka donated revenue to the John Lennon Instructional Tour Bus undertaking. As the tale goes, Ono slipped into the Steinway generation facility by way of a loading-dock doorway, autographed the piano with a Sharpie and slipped back out.

Gietka died in 2014, and the piano sat in a warehouse for a number of several years right up until it built its way to a Steinway supplier, who placed it for sale on eBay, the place Blanchet saw it.

“I thought, ‘I can’t consider this.’ So I pursued it,” she claimed.

She experienced the instrument transported to her household in Scottsdale, wherever she performed it each and every working day.

“Since my qualifications was in classical audio, I performed Chopin, Rachmaninoff and of study course Beethoven, my favorite,” she said.

Right after Blanchet determined to make the donation to ASU, Rick Florence, the head piano technician for the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, frequented Blanchet’s property to verify out the piano.

“When I very first sat down and played a several notes, it was apparent it was a pretty nice musical instrument. It had really nice tone, and it was in immaculate issue,” he said.

The piano arrived at the newly completed Fusion on First developing in October. The piano movers took the legs off the entire body and wheeled it sideways into the area.

“Rows of students lined up to enjoy them shift the piano in,” Barra stated.

“Then there was a line to sit down and play it. I bought to be the to start with individual to play it, so that was pretty interesting.”

Rick Florence, the head piano technician for the University of Music, Dance and Theatre, rebuilt all the hammers of the “Envision” piano in his shop on the Tempe campus. Photograph by Charlie Leight/ASU Information

In pristine shape

Not extended following the piano arrived, Florence took it aside.

“One factor I could not hold out to do is get the piano motion into my shop and enhance it so we could pull out all people great sounds that the piano is able of making,” he stated.

Florence removed the “action” of the piano — the keys, the hammers that hit the strings and the hundreds of parts in in between. The action slides out of a piano like a major drawer, so Florence could choose it to his workshop on the Tempe campus. There, he milled all new hammers and then controlled the piano – applying a balancing procedure that tweaks the ratio of the movement of the keys and hammers.

It’s a difficult and sensitive interplay of physics that requires much more than just tuning, reported Florence, a 3rd-era piano technician.

“When you have a piano tuned, you’re switching the rigidity of the strings. It does not have an impact on the other areas,” he stated.

Tuning a piano with no regulating it is like placing gasoline into your car or truck but carrying out no other upkeep. All of the school’s pianos have a regular plan of treatment.

The regular consideration is for the gain of the performers, who have researched their craft for years.

“They’re at the mercy of the pianos, the venue, the ability of the technician and points that are absolutely out of their management, but they are judged on how effectively they perform,” he stated.

“They have earned a piano that is in pristine shape.”

Carly Bates, a college associate who teaches piano in the Popular Songs Program at ASU, performed her possess arrangement of “Imagine” at a latest recording session on the John Lennon “Picture” piano. Picture by Charlie Leight/ASU Information

‘An outstanding experience’

The piano is in 1 of the three “live rooms” of the next-floor recording studio at Fusion on Initial. In building the studio, ASU labored with the Walters-Storyk Design Group, which has made lots of well known studios, including Jay Z’s Roc the Mic studio in New York.

“It’s acoustically impeccable. The flooring are floated and it is linked to two other are living rooms, so we can be recording everything from a symphony orchestra to a one piano vocal,” stated Barra, an assistant professor in the College of New music, Dance and Theatre.

The Popular New music Application, now in its fourth semester, has about 100 college students, and Barra expects it to top out at all around 250.

“The Well-liked Audio Plan is a contemporary, business-concentrated system that holds house for all kinds of musicians, from regular instrumentalists to students who express their musicianship via technologies or composition,” she explained.

“Our target is to produce lifelong learners, multidisciplinary people today and entrepreneurial creative sector experts.”