A Grand Piano for a Grand Concert Hall

(February 17, 2023) — How do you find the right grand piano for the stage of our new grand Concert Hall? It’s easy! Send the conductor and our esteemed guest soloist to the factory where the pianos are built – the Steinway factory in Astoria, New York, that is – and where some of the world’s finest pianos have been handmade since 1880.

Vista Philharmonic Orchestra artistic director and conductor Bruce Hangen explains: “Distinguished pianist Misha Dichter had been scheduled to perform a Beethoven concerto with us in 2020 until the Covid pandemic canceled everything. As we looked to reschedule his appearance, it seemed timely that our new Concert Hall in Groton would emerge as the locus for the performance.”

The next step in the process was to purchase a piano. “The idea came to me, then, to ask Misha to not only reschedule his appearance with us, but also to go to the Steinway factory in New York and choose for us which piano we should purchase and call our own,” Bruce continues. “He agreed, the rest is history, and our February 25th Vista Phil concert finds us with Misha finally appearing with us, on the grand piano he chose for us, and in the repertoire of his choosing –– Rachmaninoff’s beloved Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Working with the technicians at the factory, Misha and Bruce looked at six different Steinway D concert grands. “I’m very much interested in the feel of an instrument and its range of sound,” said Misha in a recent phone interview. He said that he played a variety of pieces and composers on each piano, including Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. The piano he fell in love with has a “beautiful sweet sound and the ability to roar!” and he added that Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini “is very well suited to this piano.” According to Bruce, “The Rhapsody is a famous piece, enormously popular since its first performance in 1934, and played by professionals and students the world over… Its musical language is filled with flash, flourish, and flying fingers.”

Limited tickets remain for the Vista Philharmonic’s concert on Saturday, February 25 at 7:30pm in the Concert Hall at Groton Hill featuring guest pianist Misha Dichter performing on our new Steinway D concert grand. Learn more about the concert and buy tickets.

Now in the sixth decade of a distinguished global career, pianist Misha Dichter remains one of America’s most popular artists, extending a musical heritage from the Russian Romantic School, as personified by Rosina Lhevinne, his mentor at The Juilliard School, and the German Classical style that was passed on to him by Aube Tzerko, a pupil of Artur Schnabel. He also studied composition and analysis with Leonard Stein, a disciple of Arnold Schoenberg.

A special note: The Concert Hall Steinway is a generous gift from Matt and Judy Fichtenbaum and family. Matt (1945-2022) felt privileged to do professional work that he loved and music was also a major part of his life. He was a violin student at Groton Hill Music School, where he “felt accepted, encouraged and welcomed.” He believed that what Groton Hill does is “phenomenal” and exhorted us to always “think big.” We are forever grateful for Matt’s friendship and generosity.