A unique 21st Century evolution of the grand piano
NEW YORK, July 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — On July 19, 2022, celebrated pianist Kirill Gerstein’s performance at the Verbier Festival, which will be broadcast live on Medici.tv, will mark the public debut of the Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand Piano.
The novel instrument was developed jointly by master piano maker Chris Maene and renowned architect Rafael Viñoly. The piano’s curved ergonomic keyboard matches the natural sweep of a pianist’s arms rotating from the shoulders and facilitates effortless playing across all registers. The keyboard’s radial arrangement is extended to strings that fan out over a much larger soundboard augmenting the instrument’s capacity for nuance, clarity, and power.
Mr. Viñoly is an avid amateur pianist whose own experience and close friendships with master pianists has sharpened his awareness of the instrument’s biomechanical demands and inspired his idea to curve the keyboard. In a 2016 conversation with legendary artists Maestro Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich, he was encouraged to develop the concept. Soon after, Viñoly sought out a partnership with Chris Maene, who had previously developed a straight-strung grand piano for Maestro Barenboim.
First, the team collaborated with noted piano kinematics researcher Renzo Pozzo, professor at the Department of Medical and Biological Sciences at the University of Udine (Italy), and German pianist and researcher Dr. Henriette Gärtner to determine the keyboard’s ideal arc. The further technical and aesthetic development leveraged time-honored piano-building traditions, computer-aided design and acoustic modeling, and the generous feedback and support of some of the world’s most prominent piano technicians and artists including Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Kirill Gerstein, and Stephen Hough, among others.
After six years of development, we are proud to present a grand piano that exceeds our team’s expectations of sound quality, ergonomics, construction, and aesthetics.
Classical forms remain vibrant and relevant through change and development. The Maene-Viñoly concert grand advances the discourse of what a modern grand piano is while acknowledging and utilizing the traditions and ideas of the past. Its curved keyboard, designed to follow the natural arc of the arm’s movement, is a starting point for a re-examined layout of the larger soundboard that follows along this curvature. The unified design, ergonomics, and function give the piano a unique sonic signature. This piano is a musical and artistic creation, as art innovates and provokes by building on the achievements of the past to look into the future. I am thrilled and honored to give the first public performance on the Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand.
Rafael Viñoly is an exceptional architect with a clear vision and a profound passion for his creations. In the instrument’s design, the visual aspects are a logical extension of the drive to meet its acoustic and ergonomic goals. By considering it as an integrated whole, he drove us to challenge a grand piano’s traditional set-up and embrace the consequences of the foundational idea. The physics of conveying the forces applied to the ergonomic keyboard lent itself to a radial straight strung arrangement and to our unique expertise. The result is astonishing: from Rafael Viñoly’s ideas arose a radically new concert grand, with unique looks and an exquisite sound!
Chris Maene’s obvious expertise, sensitivity and commitment to excellence can only have come out of a lifetime of probing and learning about making pianos. But more than that, no other piano maker has the courage to challenge the status quo of a culture and industry that has seen little innovation on behalf of its most important exponents, professional artists. Chris has the courage of an artist, because he is one, as well as a consummate craftsman.
**At 1pm on July 19, 2022, immediately following the piano’s debut, a Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand will be presented to the press and the public by Messrs. Maene, Viñoly, and Gerstein at the W Verbier, Rue de Médran 70, 1936 Verbier, Switzerland. Light refreshments will be served.
PRESS KIT AND IMAGES:
Henk Swinnen, Senior Adviser
Atelier Chris Maene
+32 (0) 484 151 989
Raymond Lee, Communications Director
Rafael Viñoly Architects
+1 212 924 5060