Steinway no. 10 to Lofoten – in Svolvær Church

Last week a press release was sent in connection with our purchase of a new grand piano to Svolvær Church. Read about the purchase in the local press:

Våganavisen 26.11.19 (subscriber)
Lofotposten 27.11.19 (subscriber)

The board of Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival recently decided to purchase a concert grand piano of the type Steinway & Sons Model D. This will be the 10th in a row since 2007. The instrument is placed in Svolvær Church.
– It is very good that we finally get a world-class concert grand piano in Svolvær Church as well, says a proud Knut Kirkesæther (general manager).

With the grand piano in Svolvær church, there are now as many as 10 Steinway & Sons concert pianos in Lofoten’s churches and cultural halls. It is a situation that is unique and has been noticed also by Steinway’s management in Hamburg.

– The piano situation in Lofoten is incomprehensible. I jokingly called it black magic. It is a luxury during our festival to not carry around instruments as much as before, and we are totally dependent on instruments at this level to perform our concerts. Svolvær Church is one of the best venues acoustically, and we have missed  to be able to have more concerts there, says a happy general manager.

An instrument of the highest quality

Steinway & Sons has become an industry standard when it comes to concert pianos. They are permanent fixtures in most major concert halls around the world. This also makes most pianists prefer to play on just these instruments. They know what what they get, as long as they are well maintained. Svolvær Church receives the largest version from Steinway & Sons, a Model D. With its 274 cm, the instrument has the power and fullness to fill large concert halls, and is therefore perfect in a church like the one in Svolvær.

In the video below, pianist Christian Ihle Hadland tests the new grand piano in Oslo. As artistic director of the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020, he looks forward to perform the Goldberg variations again during this summer’s festival.

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Originally from 1970, the instrument has undergone a complete renovation. Although the instrument appears new, it is significantly reduced in price. Still, there are several pianists who like the slightly older instruments better, and this period is considered the golden age of Steinway & Sons.

– It was then even allowed with ivory on the keys, which is far better than today’s plastic. This also applies to several of the instruments we now have in Lofoten that we get very good feedback on every summer” says Kirkesæther.

The second grand piano owned by the festival

The grand piano in Svolvær Church will be the second in the series owned by the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. Previously, the festival owns a similar concert grand piano in Henningsvær Church, which was purchased in 2017. This too is an older model (from 1890) that has been renovated from the inside to the outside. The other concert piano’s in Lofoten are owned by the premises in which they are located.

– The most important thing for us has been to get more instruments to Lofoten. The investment in grand piano’s is primarily a result of a huge commitment in the region. The vast majority of funds are results of collections. Although we have also contributed a little financially to several of these projects, it is extra good for us to own instruments ourselves. For us, this is a good investment for the festival, but also a great way to give something back to the region and everyone who has stood for us since its inception, ”says Kirkesæther.

Hoping for even more classical music in Svolvær Church

Throughout its 15 years, Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival has performed only a few concerts in Svolvær Church. In the future, the church will be a regular part of the festival’s main program. But the concert grand piano is available to the municipality’s music scene year-round.

– As perhaps one of the best concert churches in Lofoten, we hope the grand piano can contribute to more activity, also outside our festival, says Christian Winther Farstad, marketing and event manager at the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival.

The experience from the other instruments, is that they not only cover the festival’s needs, but also attract several other concerts, also for people outside Lofoten.

– It is not entirely coincidental that Leif Ove Andsnes chooses the grand piano in Buksnes Church when he arrives in January. He is very excited about this particular instrument that was purchased in 2018. Shortly after, pianist Joachim Carr also comes to Stamsund Church to record on the grand piano there. In addition, the instruments are frequently used by both local and regional musicians who hold small and large concerts, says Farstad.

The new grand piano will be ready in Svolvær Church already before Christmas. The festival’s permanent piano technician comes from Germany to Lofoten in January and adjusts the instrument in relation to it’s new location and climate.

– We must not forget that the church also receives a world-class instrument for worship, weddings and funerals. The only thing we need now is a new organ in Svolvær. When this is in place, Svolvær Church can really become a concert church of the very unique kind – not just for Lofoten, says Farstad with a smile.