MERCED, CA — A $50,000 donation from Bob and Marie Gallo has enabled the University of California, Merced, to purchase its first Steinway concert grand piano to help support music performances, visiting scholar and artist programs, and launch UC Merced's nascent music program.
“Bob and Marie Gallo's dedication to education and their patronage of the arts are reflected throughout the San Joaquin Valley and beyond,” said Hans Björnsson, interim dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts and acting vice provost for Academic Planning. “This extraordinary concert piano will not only provide a critical foundation for the implementation of the music program, but will expand UC Merced's ability to provide performance opportunities to faculty, staff, students and the community.”
Within days of the Gallos' offer to donate the funds needed to purchase a concert grand, Björnsson traveled to Dale Erwin Piano Restorers in Modesto with music professor Kevin Fellezs. It took the duo a full day of testing concert pianos to find the one that met the university's unique needs, including range and quality of sound.
The rare vintage Steinway 'B' Grand Piano was unveiled in front of a small group with a performance of “Song for Merced,” a piece composed by Professor Fellezs and dedicated to Marie Gallo. The seven-foot concert piano, made in 1952, will be housed in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium.
The piano will help launch the first of the campus' planned music program, beginning with a Jazz Center and respective research programs. It will open the door to student and faculty recitals, visiting artist/scholar performances and lectures, along with a full repertoire of concerts.
The Gallos have been advocates of the newest UC campus since its inception. Bob Gallo has served on the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees since September 2003, and the couple supports the Chancellor's Associates program.