Tempe Center for the Arts gets custom made grand piano

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Kurt Coleman (left) and Pete Coleman (right) move the brand new Ravenscroft piano. The piano was delivered to the Tempe Center for the Arts Friday morning as a gift from famous pianist Bob Ravenscroft. (Photo by Lisa Bartoli)

After one year consisting of more than 1,000 hours of work, a local piano manufacturer delivered his custom creation to the Tempe Center for the Arts on Friday.

Friends of Tempe Center for the Arts, a non-profit organization, purchased the $275,000 piano from the Spreeman Piano Innovations.

Michael Spreeman, owner and designer of Spreeman Piano Innovation, based out of Scottsdale, designed the new addition to the TCA. Spreeman does much of the actual work on the pianos and he has only two other employees.

“It’s a totally custom-made piano,” Spreeman said. “We literally obsess over detail.”

This is the eighth piano Spreeman has made. With each piano, he crafts the instrument specifically to each facility, or residence. Each piece of the piano contributes to the specific sound Spreeman tries to achieve.

“Every single piece that goes into all of our pianos is meticulously hand-inspected and hand-selected,” Spreeman said.

The wood used for the soundboard, the piece of a piano that amplifies the strings’ vibration, was constructed of wood from a forest in Italy named Val di Fiemme.

The wood from Val Di Fiemme is sanctioned by the government of Italy to only be used for instrument making. Stradivarius, the famous violin maker, got the wood for his violins from this forest as well.

For Spreeman, quality is more important than quantity when running his business.

“Most companies today are trying to see how they can build more units, how they can build them for less money, and how they can build them faster,” he said. “I don’t care. To a certain point, I don’t care how much it costs and I’m not really concerned with how many I build.”

Bob Ravenscroft, a jazz pianist, will be the first person to perform on the piano on Sept. 24.

“It’s probably the best piano that he’s ever made,” Ravenscroft said.

Ravenscroft and Spreeman have a relationship that reaches back to ASU when Spreeman was a piano technician.

Spreeman, an ASU piano performance graduate, built his first piano for Ravenscroft out of an old grand piano the two found in Texas.

“I quickly ascertained that there was more money to be made working on pianos than there was in playing the piano,” Spreeman said.

Spreeman named the piano after Ravenscroft. The new addition to the TCA is the Ravenscroft 275.

“I was very honored to have a piano in my name,” Ravenscroft said. “I still can’t believe it.”

Spreeman’s pianos allow Ravenscroft to achieve the dynamic range he wants in his music.

“The piano that he makes is perfect for me because I like extreme dynamic range,” Ravenscroft said. “I play very soft and on the other hand I like to play extremely loud.”

Don Fassinger, manager at TCA, is excited about the new acquisition.

“I’m thrilled that it’s a piano that’s built specifically for this facility … specifically tuned to and voiced to the acoustics of the room,” Fassinger said.

After the piano was delivered to the stage, Spreeman demonstrated it for local television news cameras.

“It’s a lovely instrument, lovely,” Fassinger said.

 

Reach the reporter at ryan.mccullough@asu.edu