When Juilliard-trained Ruby Morgan retires from Furman this summer, she’ll leave more than the gift of music and mentorship she has imparted to students over her decades-long career.
Adding to her already generous contribution to the lives of undergraduate music majors, Morgan has spearheaded an effort to make Furman an All-Steinway School—an initiative that aims to replace aging pianos on campus with artisanal-quality pianos from legendary Steinway and Sons of Astoria, New York.
Making the inaugural gift to the campaign is Morgan and her husband, retired Furman Professor of Philosophy Doug MacDonald, who hope to inspire the generosity of others. As part of the $2.5 million fundraising effort, up to 50 new pianos will populate Daniel Recital Hall, faculty studios and practice rooms.
Ahead of the official launch of the campaign, Spartanburg-based Case Brothers delivered the first three pianos to campus on July 17th. Taking up residence on the Daniel Recital Hall stage is the 990-pound, crème de la crème of concert instruments—a nine-foot Steinway Model D grand. The piano purchase was made possible by Morgan protégé, Lisa Lee Rust ’87, and her husband Kenneth Rust of Lumberton, North Carolina, both devotees of the arts.
In addition to the concert instrument, two 7-foot grand pianos were installed in studios of faculty members Derek Parsons and David Gross.
Becoming an All-Steinway School places Furman among an elite group of learning institutions including conservatories like Oberlin, Yale School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music. With the All-Steinway seal, Furman’s ability to attract talented students and faculty is enhanced.
Morgan believes the move is about aligning Furman’s reputation for excellence in music with the instrument internationally accepted as the world’s best. “As Furman continues its rise in prominence, it is important our pianos, which are used by every music student, be of a quality that reflects that reputation,” she said.
Associate Professor of Piano David Gross speaks to the nuances of the new arrivals, saying, “Any sensitive musician must develop a concept of subtlety, depth and range of sound. Building the technical skills to carry out musical ideas is only possible on an instrument that is mechanically responsive and offers a wide palette.” Steinways, primarily hand-made using techniques that are over 160 years old, have, said Gross, “the characteristics that will imbue students with the freedom to let their imaginations soar.”
Said Professor of Piano Derek Parsons, “Thanks to generous donors and Furman’s continued commitment to world-class facilities, our talented students will continue to develop their skills and perform their inspirations on the finest instruments for years to come.”
Dubbed “Pianos for Paladins,” the campaign kicks off during fall semester, so others will also have an opportunity to leave a musical legacy. For more information, contact Director of Donor Relations Allison Foy at 864-294-3704 and [email protected].
Written by Tina Underwood, Furman University Contributor.