Historic piano takes Tucson's stages - Tucson Local Media: Import

Historic piano takes Tucson's stages

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Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2005 12:00 am

Feb. 2, 2005 - In 1939, the style that screamed "modern" was Art Deco.

So when the World Fair took New York City that year, the Steinway piano company created an Art Deco baby grand to show its suitability as the piano maker of the future.

The instrument ended up in the Smithsonian Institution, but a replica of the once-cutting-edge piano is traveling across the world to promote world peace.

Before heading overseas, the Steinway Peace Piano will make a last stop in the United States to star in four concerts in Tucson. Two stops will be in the Northwest.

"We're new in the community," said Steinway Piano Gallery co-owner Leng Tshua, explaining why his store fought for the honor of borrowing the historic piano. "We want everybody to know that community involvement is very important to us."

The Steinway gallery opened in Tucson last year, and is scheduled to break ground on a larger facility in November at the upcoming Steam Pump Village in Oro Valley.

The replicated Art Deco baby grand wears 195 flags of the world's nations along its bottom edge. Across its keyboard area, it wears the flags of 35 developed countries. Because it's a peace piano, the eagles from the 1939 piano have been changed, on the replica, to doves.

When the piano takes Ironwood Ridge High School's stage at 7 p.m. Feb. 16, it will join with 14 harps and a flute to promote world harmony.

"Little cherubs play harps," said Tom War Cloud, the musician who will play flute. "That speaks a lot about peace, itself. Then, there's the spirituality of the Native American flute."

War Cloud, whose lineage includes Yaqui, Mayo and Arapaho, was quick to point out, jokingly, that his name means "thunder cloud," and does not, in any way, run counter to a peace concert.

The Ironwood Ridge concert, sponsored by the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council, will include three pieces written for the performance and one written earlier, but appropriately titled "We Are All One."

Dream catchers will dangle from the harpists' instruments, and American Indian sound makers will dangle from their wrists.

"The music will be mellow, soft and haunting," War Cloud said.

Tannis Gibson, a music professor at the University of Arizona, will play the piano.

Tickets range from $10 to $15, and are available by calling 797-3959.

When, a week later, the piano takes the stage at Sun City Vistoso Social Hall at 7 p.m. Feb. 21, an international bunch of the University of Arizona's star pianists will have their time on the bench.

Tickets are $10, and are available by calling 825-3771, ext. 123.

Robin Coulter, a spokesperson at Sun City Vistoso, said she's glad to know the proceeds from the paino's tour will go to UNICEF, the United Nations fund that aids poor and underprivileged children.

She said that when Steinway began the tour in May, no one could have known how timely the Sun City Vistoso concert would be.

"With the timing of the tsunami, and with UNICEF's role in helping the people out there, it's very important," she said.

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