Pacer Patron Makes Grand Contribution to University's Piano Campaign

Staff Report From Aiken CEO

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

One local community leader has helped ensure music students have a quality education, musical artists performing at the University of South Carolina Aiken have a state-of-the art instrument, and patrons of the Etherredge Center for the Performing Arts have an exceptional experience.

Cody Anderson, who attended USC Aiken, recently purchased a cutting-edge Steinway & Sons piano, which will be used in his business downtown. As part of a special one-night promotion, he bought a Steinway Spirio piano during the Aiken Civic Orchestra's concert benefiting the USC Aiken All-Steinway Campaign. Just before the concert, Turner's Keyboards of Augusta pledged to make a $5,000 contribution to the university if a patron bought a Spirio that night, which Anderson decided to do.

Coupled with a previous personal gift from Anderson, he then became responsible for $10,000, which went directly to USC Aiken's Steinway effort. All gifts given to All-Steinway will greatly enhance its musical programs and performances.

"I believe that music is an integral part of the grieving and healing process," Anderson said. "As the new owner of George Funeral Home and Cremation Center in downtown Aiken, I believe adding this amazing musical instrument will help people through this process.

"With the technology built into the Spirio player system, we can have actual piano music playing at visitations, celebrations of life now, and receptions rather than using canned music."

According to the Steinway & Sons website, the Spirio "is the world's finest high resolution player piano. A masterpiece of artistry and engineering…Spirio enables you to enjoy performances captured by great pianists - played with such nuance, power and passion that it is utterly indistinguishable from a life performance."

The Telegraph in London claims "The Steinway Spirio is as close as one can get to hearing private recitals by world-class musicians."

Cody says that for funerals and memorial services at George Funeral Home, a live accompanist can perform on the programmable piano, which can be played without a pianist.

"I think this addition is great both for our business and the community. By partnering with Turner's, we are able to give to the university a portion of the purchase price which will help USCA in their goal to becoming an All-Steinway school very soon."

USC Aiken is currently in the process of becoming an All-Steinway School. The first major milestone in the effort was when the brand new Steinway 9' D concert grand piano, often used by the Aiken Civic Orchestra, arrived late last year.

Achieving All-Steinway status would be quite a coup for the University's visual and performing arts department.

"Currently, only three institutions in the state hold the distinction of being All-Steinway: Converse, North Greenville University and Coker," said Judith Goodwin of the USC Aiken Advancement Office.

"We will be the only state university in South Carolina to become All-Steinway."

Stalwart supporters of the university's cultural programming, Beth Newburn and Ben Cox have led the All-Steinway Campaign, working closely with Goodwin. They have engaged Etherredge Center patrons in myriad ways to ensure the All-Steinway effort is a success. Like Cody, they believe it important to invest in the university in this way - in a way that truly benefits the entire region.

Another local Spirio owner and generous supporter of USC Aiken also made a significant contribution to the university's Steinway campaign. Phil and Connie Martini's gift enabled USC Aiken to purchase the 9' Steinway D grand piano. The Martinis worked with university officials and Steinway artists in New York to select USC Aiken's Main Stage grand piano, which made its debut during the annual Winter Nocturne concert in January.

Additionally, the Aiken Civic Orchestra did its part to help the university reach this goal. Under the leadership of Adam DePriest, the civic orchestra recently presented "All-Steinway, All Together," with proceeds going toward the All-Steinway campaign.

"I believe it is very important to support this effort because we are very lucky to have such a wonderful university in our town," Cody said.

"Although I am not a musician myself, I gained so much from my time at USCA, and this is a small way that I can give back to an institution that gave me so much. Becoming an All-Steinway school will allow USCA be set apart from many other higher educational facilities in our state and local area."

The campaign's 88 Keys to Success program allows patrons to purchase a key, which goes toward the overall effort. Currently, there are less than 20 keys available.