WNG Rebuilder Series: Marvin Rus, Eastman School of Music

Renown for its legacy of music and commitment to community development, Eastman School of Music continues to impact both the local and global music community. Based in Rochester, New York, Eastman School of Music has a beautiful history of culture and music. Inspired by a passion for education and a deep appreciation for music, George Eastman founded the Eastman School in 1921, as the first professional school of the University of Rochester. He believed that fine arts and music impacted not just the ivory towers of academia, but the life and soul of every community. Music enriched George Eastman’s life and he sought to develop the infrastructure and scaffolding that would support people who could foster those passions in their own lives and communities—and Eastman School of Music has done that ever since.

“I used to think that music was like lace upon a garment, nice to have but not necessary. I have to come to believe that music is absolutely essential to our community life.”

— George Eastman

Since Eastman School of Music is both an older historic building and located in Western New York, time and temperature play an important role in its instruments’ condition and upkeep. Wessell, Nickel, & Gross’ composite actions are ideally suited for the challenging conditions and academic rigor and excellence expected from the pianos and their pianists. We interviewed Marvin Russ, the Chief Concert Technician at the Eastman School of Music who has installed over twenty WNG composite actions in performance and practice pianos, to gain a better perspective of Eastman School of Music, its students, and its mission to provide and develop a deeper passion and appreciation of music.

As an internationally known institution, Eastman School of Music has students and alumni from around the world come to perform and study in their school and concert halls. Hundreds of students play in their concert, practice, and classroom pianos for hours every day, developing and honing their skills and craft to be the absolute best in their musical discipline. Over the course of a given year, Eastman averages around one thousand performances and concerts. As a result, its pianos are constantly undergoing tunings, part replacements, upkeep, and regulation. So far, Eastman has equipped over fifty pianos with Wessell, Nickel & Gross composite parts to help reduce upkeep and provide their students with longer lasting actions.

“The students here are from all over the world. The number one priority is keeping the concert grands in tiptop shape.”

— Marvin Rus
Chief Concert Technician at the Eastman School of Music

Marvin Russ has been one of the Chief Concert Technicians at the Eastman School of Music for over twenty seven years. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and studied piano technology at Michigan State under the tutelage of Owen Jorgenson. After graduation, he worked at Wichita State University for five years before becoming a piano technician for Eastman School of Music. He has been at the Eastman School of Music as a piano technician since 1992. Marvin and his team of piano technicians keep the Eastman School of Music’s pianos regulated, tuned, and operating to the highest performing expectations and standards.

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