88 Keys Transcend 98 Languages at the United Nations International School


NEW YORK, NY – It all may have seemed a bit surreal for student musicians from the United Nations International School, whose countless hours of rehearsals boiled down to precious few minutes sharing the same stage where Steinway Artists Sergei Rachmaninoff and Vladimir Horowitz made their American debuts.

“Playing in Carnegie Hall is a lifelong honor that is hard to measure in words,” admits Liam Veuve, a UNIS cello faculty member reflecting on the January 22nd appearance at the Festival of Orchestras. “Aside from the impact of performing in such a spectacular setting, both visually and acoustically, it was a great privilege being part of the history of classical music that has happened there.”

Veuve’s greatest wish is that his protégés gained a sense of ownership for their music and camaraderie for collective hard work that went into preparing for the event. “Years from now, I hope they will go to concerts at Carnegie Hall and be proud to say to friends and family: ‘I played here.’”

Such world-class opportunities are not uncommon at UNIS, one of New York’s most renowned independent schools, established in 1947 to educate children of UN employees. Today, with open enrollment, about half of the 1,600 students who attend classes in Manhattan and Queens have ties to the UN.

“We are impressed that Steinway offers creative school campaigns and a capable staff.”

Laura Heffron, UNIS Director of Advancement 

The pre-K-12 school provides an all-inclusive and diverse environment, where rigorous international programs foster academic excellence, innovation, creativity and cross-cultural communication. “UNIS enables young people to discover the joy of learning and acquire skills that support intellectual endeavor,” says John Nichols, Admissions Director. “Every day, they can experience first-hand the extraordinary richness of a peer group representing about 120 nationalities and 98 mother tongues. This is an immeasurably unique place to make lifelong friends from around the world.”

Friendships often transcend language barriers through the universal language of music, now with a little help from a new high performance Boston UP-118S that UNIS acquired for use in assemblies.

“We want to impress on our students the values that are necessary for commitment to humanity and a civilized life,” explains Gary Capetandes, a trombone instructor. “Music is an important component of the education we offer at UNIS, as it develops many transferable attributes for success in terms of learning, career, family and being a global citizen.”

Karen Beluso, Institutional Sales Manager for Steinway & Sons of Greater New York, introduced UNIS to the 88 Keys Program, which remarkably achieved funding for the new pianoin just one week. “We are impressed that Steinway offers creative school campaigns and a capable staff,” says Laura Heffron, UNIS Director of Advancement. “Karen guided us through the process and our music department took off with ideas on educating the community.”

While school fundraising is an American phenomenon, Heffron says it is also a necessity as tuition does not cover the full cost to educate a child at UNIS. “One of the most successful campaigns that we have done is the “88 Keys” event. The music department held a play-a-thon at the school, when parents could see students playing the Boston upright that we were trying to purchase. Having a tangible item that benefits every member of the community helped us reach that goal in a very short period of time. Our campaign exceeded expectations.” 

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