Visiting professor performs on restored piano

Jen Lassen

Director of Public Relations

Sezi Seskir, visiting associate professor of music, performed an inaugural concert on the restored grand piano in the Weis Center Lobby on Sept. 15.

Two alumni donated the piano, a Steinway & Sons 1920 Model Long A Grand Piano. Robert S. Neumann ’63 and Sara Neumann ’63 contributed the piano in honor of their 50th Reunion and their 50th wedding anniversary.

Nate Baldwin renovated the piano shortly after the donation.

“What is key in these kinds of donations is that the piano gets a proper renovation, and that person knows what he or she is doing. You can kind of see from the outside that it looks like an old piano; that’s because the frame was one of the things that was not touched, and the iron frame inside the piano was not touched either. But everything else-the soundboard, the strings, the hammers-every single thing actually was replaced because it was pretty old,” Seskir said.

Seskir performed works composed in the beginning of the 18th century through the middle of the 19th century. She played works from composers Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, and Scarlatti.

Prior to the concert, Seskir and Baldwin handcrafted the piano’s sound together.

“[Renovations] are very, very costly actually, because it’s not like you put all of these new parts in there, but you actually have to work with them. First you put them in there, but they are like raw material basically. So you take all these hammers and put lacquer on them so they harden, and then you kind of knead them so they become somewhat fluffy … there is much fine-tuning there. We needed to find what exactly was the sound that we wanted to get out of the piano. And I think we got to a good place; it sounded quite good at the end,” Seskir said.

Seskir, originally from Turkey, studied piano in her homeland where she received her B.A. from Ankara State Conservatory, Turkey. She then traveled to Germany to continue her studies.

“I ended up in the north of Germany in Lubeck. That was a great, great opportunity for me because there I feel like I became a real, independent musician and really learned how this job is actually done. I owned it a little bit more,” Seskir said.

After receiving her music education degree in Lubeck Musikhochschule, Germany, Seskir studied at Cornell University where she received her doctoral degree. Her current research focuses on historical keyboards and piano performance in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the use of tempo rubato in Robert Schumann’s keyboard music.

Seskir currently teaches piano lessons and music history classes at the University.

“I think there’s actually a parallel between being on stage and being in front of a classroom. Since I enjoy the first one, it’s actually a nice thing for me to do the classroom teaching, too,” Seskir said.

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