Oxford’s Chancellor’s House is the first hotel in North America to have unique Steinway & Sons piano

Published 8:17 am Saturday, February 4, 2017

The already luxurious (and soon-to-be-opened) Chancellor’s House hotel in Oxford is getting another lavish addition to its interior.

A Spirio piano, the first new branded product from the renowned Steinway & Sons company in 70 years, was installed in the hotel lobby on Wednesday. The Chancellor’s House is the first hotel in North America featuring the piano.

This isn’t your ordinary piano. A musician comes into a Steinway recording studio in New York City to play on a specific piano and all of their motions and notes are monitored using laser technology.

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“We’re using lasers to capture the hammer travel, so we get the velocity of the hammer,” says Michael Cabe, the Marketing Implementation Manager for Steinway. “We can measure a dynamic range which we slice into 1,020 layers from the quietest possible note to the loudest. And we have proportional pedaling, if they’re pushing it down a third of the way or a quarter of the way, that distance will be captured. We can play it back at exactly those spec levels in the Spirio.”

To accompany the hi-tech player piano, Steinway developed a Spirio app that allows users to select what they want to hear at any given time from a wide library that includes classical, jazz and pop tunes.

“In addition to the musicians who come in to record, we have technology that allows us to take historical performances and bring them back from the past,” Cabe said. “For example, we have Glenn Gould playing live on a Steinway. And you can hear it as he played it live in 1960. You can now hear what he sounds like on the piano and not through speakers or a computer.”

Other notable historical musicians featured on the app include everyone from jazz legends Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk to the composer and pianist Rachmaninoff.

Development of the technology began in 2011, but it wasn’t until last year that it became fully functional.

“The folks from the Chancellor’s House got to see Spirio and experienced it in person,” Cabe remembers. “They loved it and tied it in with the function of the space, it’s a perfect fit.”