The Gift of a New Studio Grand Piano Brings Saint Louis University Closer to its Goal to Become an "All Steinway School"
Many Saint Louis University donors see the impact their gifts make. Tom and Kathy Day can hear it.
A studio grand piano donated by the couple, who are both SLU graduates and former employees, was installed in a Xavier Hall music teaching studio over the summer. It will both benefit campus musicians and bring the University closer to its goal of being an “All Steinway” school — a designation carried by just 200 conservatories, universities and colleges worldwide.
“They know, having been in the arts, that such exquisite instruments are essential for our students’ work as performers but expensive and hard to come by,” said Cathleen Fleck, Ph.D., chair of SLU’s Fine and Performing Arts Department.
Making a Positive Difference Through the Arts
The couple has a long association with SLU and the St. Louis arts community.
Kathy Day (A&S ‘72, Grad CSB ‘78) was director of SLU Career Services from 2000-2004 and director and assistant dean of graduate programs in the business school from 2004-2011. Tom Day (A&S, ‘72) worked at SLU’s Division of Development from 2001-2006.
The arts are often underappreciated and underfunded. We found this opportunity to be a positive way to make a difference.”Tom Day (A&S '72)
While at SLU as a student, Tom Day was in the University Chorale for three years as an undergraduate. Over 30 years later, as an employee, he was cast in a play at the University.
Kathy Day remembers enjoying chorale performances on campus, saying that music, dance and theater feed her soul and enhance her well-being. Since 2015, she has served as a board trustee for Stages St. Louis.
“My appreciation for the arts and desire to perform blossomed as a child and teen with visits to the Muny and opportunities to dance, sing and act,” Kathy Day said. “My comfort with performing boosted my confidence as a teacher, presenter and facilitator throughout my career.”
In addition to the gift of a Steinway & Sons piano, the couple has provided annual donations to the “Friends of Theatre and Dance” at SLU and supports various other areas at the University. The fine and performing arts offer excellent opportunities to explore diverse ideas and should be integral to a SLU education, the Days said.
“The arts are often underappreciated and underfunded,” Tom Day said. “We found this opportunity to be a positive way to make a difference.”
A Gift That Echoes Through the Community
“It isn’t just pianists who benefit from a gift like the new Steinway piano,” said Aaron Johnson, associate professor and director of SLU’s music program. In practice rooms and performance spaces, Saint Louis University’s pianos are the soundtrack to many memorable moments across campus, accompanying other performers and facilitating live theatre.
Last year, pianist Serina Daniels (DCHS ‘23), then a SLU senior, performed the premiere of award-winning composer Ilan Eshkeri’s ‘Stardust Suite’ at the 2023 St. Louis Literary Award Ceremony on a Steinway piano at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Daniels and other students also benefited from a masterclass with noted Armenian-American pianist Kariné Poghosyan on a Steinway piano in SLU’s Xavier Hall recital studio.
There is a very big difference between a good piano and a great piano. Steinway represents what a great piano is.”Aaron Johnson, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University Music Program Director
Johnson said that nearly 400 SLU students each year are involved with some type of musical endeavor through the Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
Despite that keen interest, many of Saint Louis University’s pianos were once nearly unplayable due to age and poor repair. Following a concerted effort to replace the instruments campus-wide, SLU added 12 Steinways to its inventory, thanks to donors like the Days. Two pianos remain before SLU meets its goal.
“With 98% of all concert halls in the world using Steinway pianos, the ability to practice and perform on instruments of that caliber is the type of hands-on experience SLU performers need,” Johnson said.
“There is a very big difference between a good piano and a great piano,” Johnson said. “Steinway represents what a great piano is.”
Support the SLU Steinway Piano Initiative
To support the SLU Steinway Piano Initiative or for additional information, contact Emily Hermes, director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences, or Cathleen A. Fleck, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Or, for more ways to support Saint Louis University, visit giving.slu.edu.