Huston-Tillotson Welcomes New Classmates: 15 Steinway Pianos

Oct 31, 2017

The last time Huston-Tillotson, Austin's only historically black college or university, got new pianos was in the 1970s. The university wanted an upgrade, so it kicked off a campaign this summer to buy new ones. The administration assumed it would take years to raise the money.

Almost immediately, though, an anonymous donor wrote a check for $800,000 to buy 15 new Steinways.

The purchase gave the university the distinction of being an All-Steinway School. It’s like the music program went from driving a used Honda Civic to driving a Tesla. Or 15 Teslas.

Sophomore Jay Tillman sits down at one of Huston-Tillotson's new Steinway pianos for the first time Wednesday.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

When the pianos were delivered last Wednesday, students and staff trickled in all morning long to get a peek. One of them, sophomore Jay Tillman, a music major, said the pianos will push students to be better musicians.

"A painter has his brush, a scientist has his flask, a writer has his pen, but a pianist needs his piano for his artistic ability to come out," he said. "And we have the best of the best now and I cannot wait. It is going to be awesome."