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Major Gift from Emeritus Professor for Grand Piano Purchase


JONESBORO – Dr. J.D. Kelly has a long history of support for Arkansas State and the Department of Music, so it was no surprise to anyone he was willing to make a major gift to the university to further enhance the music program.

“When asked to contribute $75,000, half the cost of a new Steinway concert grand piano for Riceland Hall, I agreed to do it,” says the emeritus professor of music.  “A group of us (from A-State) visited the Steinway factory in New York City to select the piano being delivered today.  I believe the current Steinway pianos are quite possibly the finest the company has produced in its long history of piano making.”

The new piano is a Steinway Model D, nine-foot concert grand piano.  It has a hand-rubbed ebony satin finish, and large brass casters with locking wheels meant for the concert stage.  It comes with a padded height-adjustable artist’s bench.

Dr. Lauren Schack Clark, associate professor of music, praised Kelly’s generosity in providing the top-quality instrument, adding “A-State students deserve the best.”  Ken Hatch, music department chair, added his appreciation to Kelly for his “ . . . very generous gift.”

The instrument was ordered through Amro Music Co. in Memphis.  According to Josh Stevens, the dealer’s representative, “Every Steinway piano is hand-built, taking more than a year to complete.  Each piano has its own unique voice, and Dr. Clark and Dr. Kelly gave careful attention to select the piano they felt would be perfect for Riceland Hall.”

Stevens added the model D Steinway is widely recognized as "the piano all other pianos are measured against" and is the overwhelming choice of major concert venues around the world.

Kelly was inducted into A-State’s Legacy Society in 1998 because of his history of generous support to the university.  He previously established the Dr. J. D. Kelly Piano Scholarship for outstanding keyboard students.

With bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in piano performance, Kelly joined the A-State music faculty in 1975.  In addition to teaching, he was in wide demand nationally as a performer and adjudicator for piano competitions at all levels.  The Arkansas State Music Teachers Association named him College Teacher of the Year in 1993.

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