Free Concert On Apr. 5 Will Introduce The Community To The PAC’s New Steinway “Model D” Piano In Grand Fashion! 

New Tampa Performing Arts Center general manager Keith Arsenault was part of a group flown to New York by Steinway & Sons to select the new Steinway “Model D” concert grand piano for the New Tampa Performing Arts Center. Keith was the first to play the amazing new piano at the PAC on Mar. 21 and the Neighborhood News was the exclusive local news medium that was on hand when the beautiful new piano was delivered. (Photos by Charmaine George)

 When general manager Keith Arsenault took the job running the Hillsborough County-owned New Tampa Performing Arts Center (NTPAC) last year, he told members of the county’s staff that, “If this is really going to be a ‘real’ Performing Arts Center, then we need a real performing arts piano.” 

The PAC opened a little more than a year ago, but now, Arsenault finally has a truly grand piano that he believes will help fulfill the PAC’s destiny as a real performing arts center — a brand new Steinway & Sons “Model D” concert grand piano, also known as the flagship of this world-renowned and historic American brand. 

NTPAC GM Keith Arsenault (left) and Steinway Tampa Bay VP Jonathan Hunt talk about the process that brought the new Steinway Model D to the PAC, including the room at the Steinway showroom in Queens, NY (below) with five identical pianos from which it was chosen. 

Only the Neighborhood News was on hand when the spectacular new piano was delivered and re-assembled on the NTPAC stage on March 21 — “And on this stage it will remain,” Arsenault said. “This will be the centerpiece of this facility!” 

And, Arsenault and his staff are proud to introduce the magnificent new instrument to the local community, as the PAC will host a fantastic “Concert Grand” event on Friday, April 5. 

“When you’re making a substantial acquisition like this, you don’t just pick something out on eBay,” Keith said. 

So, Steinway & Sons graciously flew Keith, Steinway Tampa Bay (which has showroom locations in Clearwater and Tampa) vice president Jonathan Hunt and two “much better pianists” with them to the piano maker’s headquarters in Queens, NY. 

“We got a three-hour tour of the factory to see the amazing process of building these pianos,” Keith said. “And then, we were faced with a room with five of them — ostensibly identical Model D grand pianos — but each one with its own voice and personality.” 

They went up and down the line playing each piano and comparing them. 

(Photo provided by the New Tampa Performing Arts Center)

“And then, finally,” Keith said, “someone sat down at the fifth one in the row and played a big fat chord and we all just kind of went, ‘Oooh, that’s the one.’ Not too long after that, the Steinway folks came out and put a ‘Selected’ tag on the piano, so that nobody else would get it.” 

He joked, “I knew I didn’t have to, but I even wrote down the serial number to make sure we got our piano.” 

Jonathan, who says he usually makes the trip to Queens “about three or four times a year,” said, “Steinway does a pre-delivery inspection, they disassemble and wrap the legs, wheels and foot pedals and pack it into a big box and deliver it to our factory. That takes about two weeks. We then have our own pre-delivery inspection and prep process. We put it back together, allow it to acclimate to the Florida weather, test the sound, and then disassemble and wrap and box it up again to get it ready for delivery.” 

Keith noted, “The whole process from Queens to final destination took a little less than the month we were told to expect it to take. And, throughout the process, we got blow-by-blow updates like, ‘The piano has left the factory,’ and so forth. It was basically like tracking it online as it made its trip. This was the first time I’ve had my hands directly involved in this process. It was very special.” 

A Truly Grand Concert Event! 

Keith said, “The Concert Grand event on April 5 is our way of introducing this fine instrument to our audiences. We have six magnificent pianists coming to play that evening, ranging from classical to jazz to piano ‘four hands,’ where two of these musicians play the piano at the same time. It’s going to be a wonderful, free event, but reservations are required.” 

That night, the NTPAC lobby will open at 7 p.m., there will be a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Steinway of Tampa Bay, “and we’ll have an amazing concert (starting at 8 p.m.) and a chance to meet and greet with the artists afterwards in the lobby,” Keith said. 

“Jonathan and I will be making casual remarks at the top of the show,” he added, “but we will not be among those playing the piano at that event. The star of this show is the piano…certainly not us.” 

As to how he feels about the selection his group made, Keith said, “I couldn’t be happier. As Jonathan said, ‘This piano is a rocket ship’ and, given the acoustical nature of this room, and the fact that we will likely be using this piano as much for legitimate jazz events as for classical, it’s just the perfect piano for this space. And, the pianists who are going to be part of that program are all going to be thrilled to be playing it.” 

Jonathan added, “I also just love this facility (NTPAC). It’s so good to see Hillsborough County investing in the arts. As much as the Concert Grand event is about this piano, we just want people to know that the New Tampa Performing Arts Center is here and is a great asset to this community.” 

‘Concert Grand’ Performances On Apr. 5 

“Valse Impromptu in A-flat Major” by Franz Liszt – played by Grigorios Zamparas 

“I Love You, Porgy” by George Gershwin; “Half a World Away” by Simon Lasky & “Soul Cowboy” by Pat Metheny – played by Simon Lasky 

“Etude Opus 25, Nr. 1, ‘Aeolian Harp’” by Frederic Chopin – played by Jane West 

“Hungarian Dances for Piano Four- Hands No. 2 & No. 8” by Johannes Brahms; “Slavonic Dance Opus 72, Nr. 2 in E minor” by Antonín Dvorak & “Waltz ‘Snowstorm,’” by Georgy Sviridov – played by Jane West & Grigorios Zamparas 

“Who Am I?,” by Pablo Arencibia, “Invi-tation” by Bronislaw Kape & “Freedom Jazz Dance” by Eddie Harris-played by Pablo Arencibia 

“Fantasia in F Minor D.940” by Franz Schubert – played by Ghadeer Abaido & Svetozar Ivanov 

Editor’s note — It was absolutely mesmerizing to see the Model D being taken out of its special box, with each of its legs and the beautiful, easy-rolling brass wheels separately wrapped, and then rolled on a dolly to, and then laid out on, the NTPAC stage. And then, to see Jonathan and his two assistants meticulously re-attach the legs and foot pedals to the 8’, 11-3/4” long behemoth and then turning the nearly 1,100-lb. piano upright and then wiping it down to allow the high-gloss, ultra-black paint to emit its perfect, reflective glow was a sight I know I will never forget. I can’t wait to attend the concert to hear true Master Pianists playing this magnificent instrument. 

To find out more about the NTPAC (8550 Hunters Village Rd.) visit

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