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From the West Village Across the Global Stage, a Virtual World Premier

Narrow Keys…Broad Minds…No Boundaries

By Heidi E. Russell

Long time West Village resident Hannah Reimann joins forces with fellow pianists Carol Leone of Texas and Rhonda Boyle of Australia, bringing together a talented roster of pianists from around the globe to celebrate and perform concerts on pianos with keys that are narrower than conventional ones. 

 Stretto is Italian for “narrow” and these exceptional pianos allow pianists with smaller hands to cover a wider range of keys to master complex compositions, equalizing opportunity. During earlier eras, musicians such as Mozart and Chopin played and composed on pianos that encompassed different sizes based on local units of measurement. This provided a vast range of options that included narrower keys than today’s conventional size.  Modern-era pianos have evolved into the streamlined supply of the standard larger-sized pianos with wider keys that make it harder for smaller-sized hands to circumvent the wider octave+ stretches many compositions demand. In the 1920s, upon pianist, composer and inventor Joseph Hoffman’s request, Steinway & Sons built several pianos for him all of which had narrower keys to accommodate his diminutive stature. “Hoffman is my most important inspiration and guiding light,” beams Reimann, “He was a virtuoso, friends with Rachmaninoff, who was a huge man.”

MEMORABILIA PHOTO of Hannah Reimann in 1997 shows that a tiny person can comfortably fit inside a grand piano! “A musician on a mission,” ~ Wall Street Journal. Photo by Boz Swope.

 Reimann advocated for 30 years to have “stretto” pianos available to the public and has worked closely with Steinway & Sons to inform the company about their usefulness.  She says this festival project is one of the most important of her long career of performing, writing and teaching to help educate the public and promote this much needed instrumental option in the world of music performing, educating, and composing. Her circa 1900 antique Steinway 7’4” piano has narrower keys and will be used for the festival.

 “This festival is all about playing the piano with freedom, changing attitudes, treating people fairly and honestly, ultimately promoting music’s beauty and expression to the world”, notes Reimann.

 The festival aims to raise awareness and promote the idea of alternate piano key sizes, promote and elevate the careers of the performers on these keyboards, and assist in energizing a community of those who are proponents of this technology.

 Experience this exquisite festival May 15-23, 2021 from stages, universities, homes, and a West Village gallery over three continents on their online viewing platform partner, Musae.me.

 Steinway & Sons is now offering these custom built pianos—Hannah is the liaison. To acquire a Steinway grand piano with narrower keys or have your Steinway grand rebuilt to have narrower keys, reach her at: reimann.musicandfilm@gmail.com  

Bravissima, Hannah, the global village is proud of you!

Play on, Stretto Piano musicians, play on!

WEB: info.musae.me/stretto 

Performer Roster Includes:

Anna Arazi (Boston, USA)

Amos Kurniadi (Australia)

Erica Booker Studio (Australia)

Kathy Caruana (Australia)

Peter Fancovic (NYC, USA)

Jessica Johnson (Wisconsin, USA)

Carol Leone (Texas, USA)

Barbara Lister-Sink (USA)

Artina McCain (USA)

Hannah Reimann & Rick-Hip Flores (NYC, USA)

Gjermund Sivertsen (Norway)

Ulrike Wohlwender Studio (Germany)

Sophia Wiedeman, Annette Seiler, Silvia Carvalho Molan

Eliana Yi (Texas, USA)

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