Detroit Free Press features

The Victory Vertical Project

Eastern Michigan professor reveals forgotten history of WWII pianos   

July 13, 2019

Upcoming Events

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Schoolcraft College

VisTaTech Center

18600 Haggarty Rd.

Livonia, MI  48152

January 29, 2020

Public Performance

 
 
The Victory Vertical Piano Project was launched by pianist Garik Pedersen in November, 2017 to tell, in words and music, an amazing and little-known story about pianos that were built for the military during World War II.
Introducing:
The Steinway Victory Verticals Project
An Historical Tribute 

In presentations geared for musicians, veterans, historians, and a wide general audience, Pedersen uses descriptive vignettes accompanied by piano music in many styles-classical, popular, boogie-woogie, jazz, and movie soundtracks-to bring to life a remarkable account of courage, solidarity, and the power of music.

 When the United States entered the war in 1941, raw materials, including iron, copper, and brass, were diverted to the war effort, and piano makers were suddenly forced to manufacture other products or go out of business. 

The Steinway factory in Astoria, Queens, New York had already begun to build gliders for troop transport and coffins (unfortunately, also for troop transport) when Henry Z. Steinway and Roman de Majewski developed a plan to build a small, lightweight, inexpensive upright piano that could be packed in a crate and shipped to soldiers in the field, supplying them with music to improve morale and strengthen resolve. 

 

These 40-inch, boxlike instruments, which contained no more than 33 lbs. of metal, came with sheet music, instructions and tools for tuning and repair, as well as handles for easy transport.  The enthusiastic response to the first shipment of 405 pianos resulted in more orders for O.D.G.I. (Olive Drab Government Issue) “field” pianos, and when production ended in 1953, 2,436 “Victory Vertical” pianos had been shipped to troops on three continents, and countless hours of diversion, education, entertainment, worship, enrichment, and outreach had been provided. 

Live Concert Presentations

Pedersen, a concert pianist and Steinway Artist, performs music by Samuel Barber, Richard Addinsell, Roy Harris, Duke Ellington, R. Nathaniel Dett, David Raskin, Harry Warren, Ross Lee Finney, Frederic Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Glenn Miller, and many others to provide fascinating, beautiful, and moving glimpses into the war that, more than any other, united us as a people with a common purpose. 

 

The Victory Vertical Piano Project presents a story for all ages and all time; but more specifically, it is a story for our time.  Contact Dr. Pedersen to schedule a VVPP program for your school, concert or lecture series, museum, library, church, veterans group, conference, or retirement center.

See below for Concert Information

Pedersen at Steinway Factory,  NYC
Contact me to schedule a live concert presentation or for more information

January 29, 2020

2019-20 Performance Season

October 

25-26 Ohio Music Teachers Association

              State Conference, Sylvania

 November 

 1     West Virginia Music Teachers Association                 State Conference, Huntington

 8      Chelsea Retirement Community

            Chelsea, MI (3pm)

 10-11 Trezevant Manor, Memphis, TN

 17     First Presbyterian of Gainsville, GA

            Fine Arts Series

January 

29     Schoolcraft College, Livonia, MI

February 

7-10  Terrace Hill Historic Site, Des Moines, IA

        Faith Lutheran Church, Des Moines

13     Central Michigan University,

            Mt. Pleasant, MI  (7:30 pm)

19     All Seasons of West Bloomfield, MI (1 pm)

24-25 Trinity University, San Antonio, TX

25     University of Texas-San Antonio

March  

8      Yankee Air Museum, Belleville, MI

19     All Seasons of Birmingham, MI  (3 pm)

21-25 MTNA National Conference, Chicago, IL

April 

3     All Seasons of Rochester Hills, MI (7:30 pm)

27   College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO

May 

10    Toledo Museum of Art

20    MIchigan League, University of Michigan

             Ann Arbor, MI

Facility requirements for a live concert presentation:
  1.  Tuned, acoustic piano with adjustable bench (grand or upright)

  2. Projection system with sound for Power Point

  3. Voice Microphone for larger groups 

 IN THE NEWS

FT. DODGE, IA MESSENGER

The Steinway Victory Vertical Piano Project

NEW ULM, MN

THE JOURNAL

'Piano' is How They Spelled 'Relief'

ATLAS OBSCURA

When the Pianos Went to War

MICHIGAN PUBLIC RADIO

Interview 

Garik Pedersen

 

 

Interview 

Garik Pedersen

 

EMU's Professor of Piano, Dr. Garik Pedersen's latest show sheds light on a little known World War II story.

STEINWAY FEATURES::

ArticleVictory Verticals

HENRY Z STEINWAY

About the Artist

Garik Pedersen first heard about the O.D.G.I. “Victory Vertical” pianos during an impromptu interview with Henry Z. Steinway in his office at Steinway Hall in New York City a few months before Mr. Steinway’s death in 2008.  Since then he has become increasingly fascinated with this incredible story.

Pedersen, a Steinway artist, has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and in Europe, Canada, Central America, Taiwan and the Philippine Islands.  He has presented programs for the U.S. State Department, the National Federation of Music Clubs, Music Teachers National Association, the European Piano Teachers Association, Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Associations, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and on numerous public television and radio broadcasts. Currently a professor of piano at Eastern Michigan University, Dr. Pedersen has taught undergraduate and graduate students from many U.S. states and 13 other countries, producing prize winners in national and international—as well as numerous regional and state--competitions.

Dr. Pedersen has appeared at numerous summer music festivals, including Cleveland’s International Music Festival, Spokane’s Musicfest Northwest, the World Piano Conference (Serbia), Tunghai Summer Music Festival (Taiwan), Michigan’s Interlochen and Blue Lake camps, and other music camps and festivals in Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Kentucky, and Indiana. A student of Wesley True at the University of Central Missouri, which awarded him its Distinguished Alumnus in Music in 2010, he was the final DMA piano student of John Simms at the University of Iowa, graduating in 1986.  Other major influences have been Gyorgy Sebok, Eugene Bossart, and Edwin E. Gordon.

Garik is a past president of Michigan Music Teachers Association, which honored him with its Distinguished Service Award in 2016.  He received the Michigan Touchstone Award in 2017 in recognition of his “commitment to Michigan’s artistic excellence and his advocacy for the arts.”  He is listed in the 2018 edition of Who’s Who in Fine Arts Higher Education.

 
 
 
 
 

    Steinway & Sons    

       1942 -  1953      

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