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Pianist Puts Spotlight on Traveling Bosendorfer

Does Yo-Yo Ma lend out his cello? Did B.B. King ever send Lucille on dates with other guitarists?

Twin Cities multi-platinum recording artist Steven C Anderson is celebrating the 20th anniversary of acquiring his handmade, 92-key-Bösendorfer piano by sending it off on an adventure – without him. Perhaps it can be chalked up to Minnesota Nice.

You are currently promoting this idea: “Behind the B with Steven C,” which basically is promoting your grand piano, the impressive Bösendorfer. What served as the impetus for this idea?

The idea started to form almost two years ago when I collaborated with organist Lawrence Lawyer with the Cathedral of Saint Paul [in St. Paul, Minn.] and arranger Adi Yeshaya. We recorded my latest CD, “Christmas Beyond,” a winter-themed collection of traditional and original music inside the Cathedral. It was late at night, after the doors were closed to the public, and we had this massive cathedral all to ourselves.

Steven C Bosendorfer interview
Musician Steven C and his beloved Bosendorfer piano.

We decided to share this magical experience with the community so we repeated the experience only this time we held it earlier in the evening! 2,500 people came! More than just listening to piano music on personal electronic devices, or as background entertainment, I saw an audience eager to thoughtfully listen to a rare and beautiful instrument played by a trained pianist. And I sensed my Bösendorfer enjoyed it, too! Up to this point, we had spent the majority of our time recording music in my studio. This idea to share my Bösendorfer and its amazing sound quality was irresistible.

Amongst pianists known in the public eye – Elton John, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga, etc. – do any of these other artists perform on Bösendorfers?

Tori Amos! There is no one more passionate about her Bosendorfer than Tori. We met once and connected over our shared passion for these exceptional Austrian pianos. I believe she owns at least two: one to keep at home and one which she takes on tour. Victor Borge is another name people might recognize in the classical music world.

Your “Bösey” has been “on loan” for about two months now at The Dunsmore Room in Minneapolis. What has the response been from other musicians who have played it?

Overwhelmingly excited. Artists are asking to play in the room so they can perform with the Bösendorfer. . .and it’s drawing new crowds to The Dunsmore Room.

Your career started in the recording studio with two very successful series: the award-winning Baby Genius CD and NorthWord Press. Share with us how the concept came together to use piano music for Baby Genius.

The Mozart effect studies came out in the early ‘90s, which claimed that having your baby or young children listen to classical music would raise their IQs, or at the very least, would benefit their mental development.

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Those studies spawned the Baby Genius CD. My kids and their friends sang on these recordings, shouting numbers, counting backwards for “How many monkeys jumping on the bed,” and they are all geniuses. . .so maybe there is validity to those studies.

And NorthWord Press went on to wild success with national distribution through Target stores. How did you come up with this idea?

You hear people say you’ll never find a job in the newspaper. Well, I answered an ad in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis daily) which stated they were looking for a music producer or musician for a nature label. I became both. I was the creative guy, and I came up with the titles and produced all the concepts up in beautiful Minoqua, Wis., way up in northern Wisconsin surrounded by nature. It’s also when I first started using “Steven C” as my musical artist title to distinguish myself from the producer side.

Congratulations on passing the 50 million spins on Pandora. Why do you think piano music is such a hit on Pandora?

Steven C music has been very popular on Pandora, and from the research I’m sent, especially with women between the ages of 25 to 32 in LA! I’m guessing they select Steven C music to chill out, to bring their stress level down and to bring back their smile. And new pockets continue to pop up – I hear it’s catching on in Germany. It’s awesome.

When you were young, were you the kid who sat down to practice the piano without being told?

No. My mother bribed me with candy to sit down to practice. It was my high school rock band, Ground Control, that really got me interested in playing. And then I joined jazz band in college and stretched my repertoire again. . .and continued from there.

What are you playing on now that the Bösendorfer is out having adventures and performances without you?

I’m searching for a new writing partner. . .sssh, a Steinway. . .I’d like to find an old piano from the ‘20s or ‘30s. A piano from that age has a lot of good bones and a lot of power for its size.

Describe your method for composing.

Direct cause and effect. Life! Inspiration can come at any time, but major life events definitely start my mind going. Expecting a baby, reading and studying spiritual material, anything that puts you in a reflective mood can start the music playing in my head. And I’m usually not at the piano. I’m jogging or mowing the lawn and I get hit with a melody, I hear it and it sticks. I don’t forget it. Once I make a recording, I hire people to transcribe it.

What will be on your program for the anniversary show at The Dunsmore Room – will it be recorded for later rebroadcast?

We’ll have a retrospective of the years, share stories, and there will be special guests. And yes, we will recording this and people will just have to stay in touch with our website to find out how we decide to share it.

Where will you take the Bösendorfer next?

We’re moving up. . .finding new ways to share the Bösendorfer and my music with larger audiences. It’s so large I can hide behind it – literally, but gradually we’ll be moving into a shared spotlight.

A show is in development – it’s part concert, part theater, part show. Music will still be the heartbeat no matter what. Nothing pleases me more than when people tell me my music moves them. That is always my intention and hope.

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Brant Skogrand writes regularly for the Reflections from the Center and Skogrand PR Solutions blogs. He is the author of three books: “Maynard’s Memories: Life Lessons from the Developer of Airlake Industrial Park in Lakeville, Minnesota,” “19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management” and “From Fringe Party to Serious Contender: An Analysis of Green Party of Minnesota Communications.”

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