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Ten New Steinway Grand Pianos Acquired by SMU Meadows Music

Cliburn International Junior competitors among first to play the new Model M instruments

Meadows Music by the Numbers for Academic Year 2018-19

190 undergraduate students, all instruments
140 graduate students, all instruments
40 undergrad and graduate students, piano
92 Music faculty members
6:1 Music student-to-professor ratio
9 ensembles:

  • Meadows Symphony Orchestra
  • Meadows Choirs
  • Meadows Jazz Orchestra
  • Meadows Opera Theatre
  • Meadows Percussion Ensemble
  • Meadows Wind Ensemble
  • Meadows World Music Ensemble

1915: SMU School of Music established
#1: Highest-Paid Music Graduates, College Factual

Ten new Steinway Model M grand pianos have been added to SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Division of Music, thanks to generous gifts from the Estate of Jeanne R. Johnson, the Jeanne R. Johnson Piano Program Special Initiatives Fund and the Florence Hoskins Gahagan Educational Memorial Endowment Fund.

The first pianists to play the new grands will be a group of 24 highly skilled teenage pianists, competitors in the 2019 Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival. The young pianists, who will compete in preliminary, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds at SMU Meadows’ Caruth Auditorium May 31 through June 6, were selected from a pool of 230 pianists from 32 countries.

The grands have been placed in the Jeanne Roach Johnson practice rooms in the lower level of the Owen Arts Center, and will be available to Meadows piano majors in the upcoming academic year.

“It’s a huge investment in the future of our piano department, one for which we are very grateful,” says SMU Meadows Chair of Piano Carol Leone. “This is important for our current students and for the recruitment of future piano majors. During auditions, students spend time in our practice rooms. They are thinking, ‘If I come to this school, this is where I’m going to spend two to eight hours a day of my life. Do I want to be here? Is this a decent instrument? Is this the place where I feel I can do my work?’

“It’s incredibly important that we have fine pianos for talented pianists. We always take care that our teaching studios, practice rooms and concert halls have the very best for them.”

SMU Meadows keeps a stable of approximately 112 pianos, says David Brown, assistant director for music operations, and contains a mix of Steinway, Yamaha and Fazioli brands. “The addition of the new Steinways raises all boats,” says Brown. “They will benefit our students, our studios and our mission overall.”

“The new pianos are a great thing,” says Leone, whose student Ishan Loomba is competing in the Cliburn Junior. “One of the issues about being in a practice room with a piano that has been played for 15, 16 hours a day for months or years, is that the felt on the hammers tends to harden, making the sound louder over time. Our students – and the Cliburn competitors – will especially appreciate the Steinways’ new hammers. They won’t have to fully close the piano lid or guard their ears with musicians’ earplugs; they will be able to comfortably practice full-out for several hours at a time.”

The Cliburn International Junior Competition and Festival begins May 31 in SMU Meadows’ Caruth Auditorium and concludes with the final round on June 8 at the Meyerson Symphony Center in downtown Dallas. The Cliburn Junior events are open to the public. For tickets, visit or call the Dallas Symphony box office at 214.849.4376.

Read more about SMU Meadows Division of Music Piano Department.

Read more about the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival.

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