This article originally appeared in the Star Beacon in April of 2018.
JEFFERSON — A recently purchased Steinway piano was “baptized” on Saturday evening by world-renowned pianist Caroline Oltmanns.
Oltmanns is a professor of piano at Youngstown State University and has performed in venues all over the world including 2018 concert tours to Switzerland and Germany and an invitation to perform with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. She said she chose 10 varied pieces so the crowd of more than 200 people would be able to hear the different sounds the Steinway can create.
The process to the new piano began with a request from Jefferson High School Choral Music Director Natalie Meloro.
She said she talked with the Jefferson Area Music Boosters and a school board member suggested reaching out to the community.
Meloro said the piano has been at the school since the beginning of the year but the dedication was organized with the special performance.
“When the school was first built there was the plan to have a grand piano in the auditorium,” Meloro said.
After several discussions local school benefactor Bruce Loomis agreed to a dollar for dollar donation with the Jefferson Area School Board to purchase a Steinway piano and a Boston Baby Grand Piano.
Loomis said the pianos retail for around $130,000, combined cost, but they were able to get price reductions for the school.
Jefferson High School Principal Jeremy Huber said the Ashtabula Foundation and the Jefferson Area Music Boosters also donated $5,000 each to make the project a reality.
Huber said Loomis is actively involved in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fund that helps raise money for the school.
He said Loomis was a 1952 graduate of Jefferson High School.
Huber said Loomis wants students to enjoy the finer quality experiences of life that extend beyond Jefferson.
“It (the Steinway) is a symbol of aspiration,” Huber said.
Loomis said they tested the Steinway and another high quality Yamaha piano and liked the Steinway the best. “The Steinway is the piano most of the world’s artists use,” he said.
“I wanted our students to be exposed to the very best,” Loomis said.
The Steinway and the Boston Baby Grand are now available for students use.
Meloro said the piano also opens up the facility for use by major performers because of the Steinway piano.