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A truly grand piano

Winnipeg couple buy ultra-expensive instrument for talented 10-year-old daughter

Sarah Shing says her new piano is very special and she is inspired to practice more.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sarah Shing says her new piano is very special and she is inspired to practice more.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/9/2015 (1029 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One of the world’s finest pianos has come to town, and that’s sweet music to young local pianist Sarah Shing’s ears.

Winnipeg’s first Italian-made Fazioli — hailed as the Ferrari or Lamborghini of the piano world — arrived in the city last week, purchased by Wade Shing and Kathy Pulis for their musically talented 10-year-old daughter.

The impressive $274,000 concert grand settled into its new home Friday after travelling across the country from its Vancouver-based dealer, Showcase Pianos.

“Sarah’s face was electric with excitement when she first tried playing the new piano,” the tween’s mother says. “She just started jumping up and down and fell in love with it right away.”

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Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/9/2015 (1029 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One of the world’s finest pianos has come to town, and that’s sweet music to young local pianist Sarah Shing’s ears.

Winnipeg’s first Italian-made Fazioli — hailed as the Ferrari or Lamborghini of the piano world — arrived in the city last week, purchased by Wade Shing and Kathy Pulis for their musically talented 10-year-old daughter.

The impressive $274,000 concert grand settled into its new home Friday after travelling across the country from its Vancouver-based dealer, Showcase Pianos.

"Sarah’s face was electric with excitement when she first tried playing the new piano," the tween’s mother says. "She just started jumping up and down and fell in love with it right away."

The family learned last week Sarah is being awarded Conservatory Canada’s provincial gold medal for her astonishing 98.8 per cent score in last spring’s Grade 4 piano exam.

"I could never have imagined I’d have such a beautiful piano like this in my house," she says.

"It’s very special to me and I feel really inspired to practise even more."

The new owners say the decision to buy the piano is rooted in their deep love for music — and sharing that with their daughter, who attends St. John’s-Ravenscourt School and continues with private piano lessons that began at age three.

"It was a big decision to do this, and also a little nerve-racking," Pulis says. "My husband has a very strong sense of artistry and an appreciation for design. We decided to go ahead with the purchase because of its quality – not just in its construction but also in its sound."

The family has offered to host concerts in their home and allow other musicians the opportunity to play their new instrument.

"We really want to emphasize that it’s the music that’s most important to us. We wanted to encourage Sarah’s growth and musical development — that’s why we got it," Pulis says.

"We also didn’t want her to feel pressured that she now has to become a concert artist because she has this piano. We’ll let her choose her own course in life, whenever that time comes."

Sarah says being a musician is definitely in the cards — as well as her dream of someday becoming a doctor. She practises at least two hours each day, squeezing her daily scales and pieces into a jam-packed schedule that also includes weekly swimming, ballet, musical theatre, recorder and singing lessons, as well as recently picking up the ukulele for her school club.

"I really like classical because you can go fast and slow," she says when asked what kind of music she likes to play best. "My favourite composers are Kuhlau and Tchaikovsky — Mozart’s good, too."

Compared to its venerable ancestors, including the iconic 183-year-old Steinway brand, Fazioli pianos are considered the new kid on the block. The first was built in 1981 after Italian founder/pianist/engineer Paolo Fazioli decided to create the world’s finest piano.

Its jaw-dropping price — a new Fazioli typically starts at $140,000 and can easily rise to upwards of $500,000 for a custom model — reflects its equally mind-boggling engineering. Many of its parts are plated in 18-karat gold, with its soundboard carved from the same Italian red spruce trees once used by Antonio Stradivari for his legendary violins.

"A Fazioli is like a piano in HD," said Showcase Pianos owner and Fazioli representative Manuel Bernaschek, who was here for the unveiling.

A peek inside the family’s new piano reveals a couple of surprises. Legendary jazz pianists Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, who both sat at its keys during a concert in Vancouver last March, autographed its iron frame. Other notable artists who have played the instrument include acclaimed Canadian pianists Angela Hewitt and Louis Lortie, both ardent supporters of the Fazioli brand.

Admittedly, some might think it’s all a lot of hype. Yet there’s no denying the winds of change after New York City’s famed Juilliard School broke rank with its time-worn tradition of using only Steinway pianos, purchasing its first Fazioli in 2011.

"That shook the piano world," Bernaschek says of the watershed moment in the fabled, 110-year-old school’s history.

Even more recently, Italian pianist Luca Buratto, 22, was named 2015 Honens Prize Laureate at Calgary’s prestigious Honens International Piano Competition — including a hefty $100,000 cash award and three-year career development package worth $500,000 — after performing on a Fazioli.

Sarah answers thoughtfully when asked if the initial thrill and novelty of her new piano will eventually fade.

"Obviously, it’s not just right now that I’ll be excited. You always get more from the piano when you work hard and get better at it," she says.

"Playing piano is something that I like to share. It’s also really fun when you can express your feelings, like being happy or sad or something."

holly.harris@shaw.ca

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History

Updated on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 9:27 PM CDT: Fixes typos in copy.

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