University of Adelaide: The Restoration Of Two Elder Conservatorium Icons

Positioned in the centre of the main hall stage, the Elder Hall Steinway pianos have been used at Elder Hall for more than 10 years, by students and some of the world’s top musicians, visiting the Conservatorium and performing as part of the Concert Series program.

Jeanette Sandford-Morgan, alumna and frequent concert attendee, has led the campaign for the restoration and repair of these important instruments. After attending a concert at Elder Hall by the internationally acclaimed pianist Konstantin Shamray, she decided to rally her friends together and fundraise to repair the iconic instruments.

“The Steinway piano is an iconic piano and is important for performances. It’s a tool of the trade and they need constant attention, though it is expensive to maintain.

“My friends are great supporters of music and the Elder Conservatorium, and we’ve known each other for a long time so it was great that they instantly said yes to help the cause,” she said.

Jeanette has a strong connection to music and a deep passion for the classical and chamber styles, mostly passed on to her from her older brother, Brenton Langbein AO, a world-renowned violinist, composer and conductor.

“I’ve always been involved in music. As a child I played piano, and my brother violin, so I was interested in all instruments.

“I studied as a singer myself and sang in the choir at the Conservatorium for quite a few years, not for any other reason other than my great love of voice and music,” she said.

After realising the extent of the care and restoration that the Steinway’s required, she wasted no time in gathering her friends who all agreed the repairs were important, not just for the quality of the professional concerts held at Elder Hall, but for the young musicians using the pianos in their studies and training.

The students practicing on these pianos are hoping to become professionals, and these are their tools. It’s like any professional, for example, tradespeople going to work on houses. They need the best tools to perform their job
Jeanette Sandford-Morgan
Jeanette spoke with Elder Conservatorium staff, found out the cost of an interstate piano technician, and with the help of her friends, paid for the work to be done.

The newly restored pianos will be featured heavily throughout the remainder of the 2021 Elder Conservatorium Concert Series program, used by some of the world’s most talented pianists and musicians, and top Conservatorium students, in the lunchtime and evening concert series.

Lucinda Collins, Head of Keys at the Elder Conservatorium is particularly grateful to our wonderful donors. “The Elder Conservatorium of Music was founded by patronage, and the Arts needs generous supporters now more than ever. A world-class instrument requires constant, careful attention and significant resources to maintain. We’re incredibly grateful to Jeanette and others for the kind support they’ve offered in helping to keep Elder Hall’s beloved Steinway Model D Concert Grand Pianos in top condition.”

For Jeanette and the other donors who funded the project, they hope the restored instruments will mutually benefit students and the community and concert attendees alike, and help maintain the Elder Conservatorium’s position as one of the country’s top music academies.

“From an artistic point of view, it’s crucial that we have quality instruments in the Conservatorium, for the teachers, students and for when fine artists visit Adelaide. Having quality resources is important as an educational institution.

“We can keep the music and magic in the Conservatorium alive with the best possible instruments and resources,” she said.