Posting Date: March 8, 2011
Kennesaw State concert will feature five Steinway grand pianos
Event includes seven pianists, KSU Orchestra and KSU Jazz Ensemble
For media inquiries: Cheryl Anderson Brown, Director of Public Relations,
770-499-3417 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(Above) Dmitri Levkovich
KENNESAW, Ga.—Kennesaw State University will honor the generosity of Dr. Bobbie Bailey with “440 Keys: A Reunion,” a gala concert featuring five Steinway pianos, the KSU Orchestra directed by Michael Alexander and the KSU Jazz Ensemble directed by Sam Skelton. The event will take place at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19 at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center. The concert will celebrate Bailey's gift of Steinway & Sons pianos to Kennesaw State and to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
In October 2007, the university celebrated the opening of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center and the delivery of a single Steinway D concert grand piano, donated to the school by Bailey. At the opening concert, Bailey surprised college officials by announcing her plans to donate an additional 26 Steinway pianos. The gift earned Kennesaw State the designation as an All-Steinway School. This title means all of the pianos used by the school are designed by Steinway & Sons, a brand internationally recognized as the epitome of quality craftsmanship. Four of these pianos—the concert grand pianos used in the Bailey Center—are named in honor of members of Bailey's family: “Miss Mary” for her mother, “Mr. Elbert” for her father, “Miss Ann” for a family friend and “Mr. Henry” for her grandfather.
“Since Dr. Bailey made Kennesaw State an All Steinway School, we have seen a steady increase in the visibility of the School of Music,” Joseph Meeks, dean of the KSU College of the Arts, says. “This helps us recruit the most gifted faculty and students because they know they will be able to work with the finest instruments in the world.”
Shortly after the gift to KSU, Bailey decided to purchase a Steinway piano for the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which is home to the Atlanta Opera and Atlanta Ballet. She chose to name that piano “Miss Audrey” in honor of her sister, Audrey Morgan, who serves on the ballet's board. Each piano has 88 keys; together, the five pianos have 440 keys. “The 440 Keys concert will be the first time that Miss Audrey will join the other pianos in the family,” Michael Taormina, managing director of CEPAC, says. “That's what inspired us to call it a reunion. We are excited to have all the pianos together to honor Bobbie Bailey and her family.”
David Daly, director of the Bailey Performance Center, says the concert offers a chance to recognize the continued support Bailey has shown to Kennesaw State’s School of Music and CEPAC over the years. “Her philanthropy has provided us with world-class instruments and facilities that are helping KSU reach new heights. This performance will pay a fitting tribute to her generosity while displaying what her gifts have helped us achieve.”
The concert will feature the KSU Orchestra under the direction of Michael Alexander, the KSU Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Sam Skelton, and faculty pianists Joseph Meeks, Robert Henry, Tyrone Jackson, David Watkins, Soohyun Yun and Judy Cole as well as guest pianist Dmitri Levkovich, recent winner of international piano competitions in Cleveland and Los Angeles and the Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition. The repertoire for the program will offer a variety of music styles.
The highlight of the event will be a special arrangement, composed by Eddie Horst and orchestrated by Lee Johnson, featuring all five pianos. “Having an orchestra and five pianists performing on stage at once is going to be a unique spectacle – something not to be missed,” says Daly.
The concert has involved more than eight months of planning. “For the audience, it is a chance to hear the best pianos in the world play a wide variety of music in a beautifully acoustic space,” Meeks says.
Bailey has an extensive philanthropy record at KSU. In addition to her donations to the College of the Arts, she also established The Bobbie Bailey Athletic Complex and created scholarships for women athletes. Her generosity also extends beyond KSU to other Georgia universities and local hospitals.
Bailey grew up in modest circumstances in a family of eight children. After her father was handicapped in a worksite accident on a New Deal-era project and the family home was lost in a fire, the family benefited from the kindness of strangers. As an adult, Bailey built a successful career in the commercial air conditioning and refrigeration industry, and has made it her goal to give back to the community.
“My mother loved music,” Bailey says, discussing her inspiration for donating the pianos. “We didn't have a piano, but she would take any opportunity she could to play hymns for us."
The concert will take place at 8 p.m. on March 19. Tickets are $15.
# # #
Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including new doctorates in education, business and nursing. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 22,500 from 142 countries.
The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts departments.