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Steinway in Arkansas: Enhancing a Tradition of Music in the Natural State

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Did you know that 98 percent of concert musicians around the world play Steinway pianos exclusively? If you saw the film The Green Book, you might remember the scene in the Oscar-winning film in which it is made clear that Dr. Don Shirley’s contract stipulates he only plays Steinways. That’s how important it is for a musician to have access to an instrument they can trust. And now, Arkansas musicians young and young-at-heart have the opportunity to bring this respected brand home with them.

The same year Arkansas became a state in 1836, Steinway & Sons’ founder, Henry Engelhard Steinweg, built his first piano in his kitchen in Germany. Seventeen years and hundreds of pianos later, Henry and his sons opened their new business, using their new name, in their new home, Manhattan, New York. A mere 166 years after that, in April of this year, Steinway Piano Gallery opened in Mayflower, Arkansas. It may have taken a few years for them to find us, but Arkansans have enjoyed a rich music tradition in the meantime.

Steinway pianos are known for exceptional quality which stems from their strict attention to handmade detail. Master craftsmen and women construct Steinway pianos by hand, one at a time, and have been passing their knowledge down to their apprentices for generations.

Tradition and Training

In Mayflower, owner Stephen Wirges brings 17 years of experience in piano tuning and repair to his new business. He apprenticed with several master craftsmen, including the founder and previous owner of Little Rock’s own Piano Kraft, Jim McGehee.

Steinway Piano Stephen Wirges

In 2010, Wirges joined McGehee as a co-owner of Piano Kraft, and was the head technician for the Kawai and Yamaha brands sold at the store – the only dealer of those brands in the state. In 2012, he began his own tuning business and began a gig he still maintains, as the exclusive tuner and technician for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. He is also the exclusive piano technician for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and for University of Central Arkansas. He completed the Steinway regulation course in 2016, and is currently working his way through the rest of their offered courses on maintaining Steinway instruments.

When Steinway & Sons approached him in 2017 to become the exclusive dealer for their company in the state, Wirges began a new chapter in his career. His hope for the Gallery is that it will not only be a Steinway retail store, but “also a place where the Arkansas music community can come together and enjoy the beautiful art of sound and music.”

 

Something for Everyone

The Gallery not only is the latest addition to Steinway’s exclusive list of showrooms offer sales and service of their entire line, but it also offers Boston and Essex pianos, which are designed by Steinway but offered at a lower price point, ensuring that a piano is accessible to music lovers with any size budget.

In addition to sales, tuning and other service options are available at the Mayflower location, the Gallery has been designed to host chamber music and recitals. Music teachers are invited to contact the store to find out about these services. Who knows? Maybe one of the children who visit the Gallery as a student at a piano recital will become the next Floyd Cramer or Robert Dorough. Anything is possible when you have the right instrument.

Steinway Piano Gallery
www.steinwaylr.com
657 Highway 365
Mayflower, AR 72106
(501) 258-8637

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Arkansas Women Blogger Laurie is a writer and artist living in Springdale, Arkansas with her husband, son and three cats who think they’re people. She can’t keep her fingernails clean, prefers her tea unsweet, and is on a first-name basis with local thrift store employees. You can follow Laurie at See Laurie Write and Junque Rethunque.

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