Piano Sundays are returning to the Old Capitol Museum

Piano Sundays is a collaboration between students, faculty, and West Music at the University of Iowa School of Music, which will showcase four performances from Nov. through April.


Grace Kreber

Pictured is the old captiol’s historic grand piano named “Rose” where both students and faculty showcase their skills as piano Sundays return to the old capital museum for the 2021 season.

Cassandra Parsons, Arts Reporter

Piano Sundays are returning to the Old Capitol with a striking chord.

Piano Sundays started 14 years ago as a collaboration between the University of Iowa and West Music, a music store in Coralville. Piano Sundays began as a unique way to connect the Iowa City community with the University of Iowa School of Music.

Located in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol building, Piano Sundays are a collaborative performance between music students and faculty where audience members can sit and watch pianists on a Sunday afternoon, free of charge. There will be four separate performances from now until April.

The performances also began as a way to continue music performance at the UI after the 2008 flood destroyed the original Voxman Building and damaged Hancher Auditorium. The Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol provided a space for the students and faculty of the School of Music to perform in Iowa City.

Ksenia Nosikova, a professor at the University of Iowa School of Music, said the idea was born during the 2008 flood when places to perform were limited. In addition to the Senate Chamber, the musicians used a church located across the river.

“That was kind of our home that we had, you know, even when we didn’t have a home, so to speak,” Nosikova said. “And so we hosted many wonderful concerts.”

Nosikova said Piano Sundays were also a way for faculty and students at the School of Music to perform together.

“We sort of put ourselves in the same situation with the students, which I think is a very wonderful way to set a positive example,” Nosikova said.

There are four total concerts featuring the professors and their students at the School of Music.

West Music is responsible for providing instruments for the students and faculty to play at this event. Ryan West, president of West Music, said the set-up includes moving the historic Steinway piano, “Rose,” into the Old Capitol building.

“Being able to work with Steinway to rebuild the piano, we found a kind of one-of-a-kind instrument in a one-of-a-kind setting,” he said. “We wanted to find a way to have people experience history in a living format. It was a way to blur the lines between town and gown.”

Nosikova added that moving “Rose” is a particularly difficult process in preparing for Piano Sundays.

“If you’ve ever been to the Old Capitol, you know how steep the stairway is. You cannot lift the piano,” Nosikova said. “So they actually had to move it with a crane, with the opening of one of the side windows,” Nosikova said.

During the pandemic, when concerts were moved to a virtual format, West music hosted recordings of the concerts on their website. Now, all performances will be in person, with the previous recordings still available on their website.

West added that he and West Music are proud to support this unique program that blurs the lines between traditional concert experiences and the performances at the Old Capitol.

“We think it’s a one-of-a-kind program and we’re really proud of it and proud to support it,” West said.