SPIRIOCAST — As if by Magic

As if by Magic




Throughout history, music has always had the magical ability to shape the world around it by conducting, emotion, feeling and sentiment.


Guido Zimmermann, President Steinway & Sons Europe | Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty
Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images for Steinway & Sons

That said, in a world where the digital streaming favours efficiency over quality, the idea of not only championing traditional formats of music, but progressing them, may seem a touch… alien. For Steinway & Sons though, it makes complete sense; the brand has been an invaluable benefactor to the genre of classical music for nearly 200 years.

I first encountered their Spirio technology in 2016 when they launched the first of their world’s finest high-resolution player pianos. Not content with revolutionising the very notion of a grand piano, they took conversation step further with the launch of the Spirio | r technology in 2019, a technology that empowers pianists to record their performances as they play so they can be shared and played back on another Spirio piano.

“Spirio enables you to enjoy performances by great pianists – played with such nuance, power and passion that it is utterly indistinguishable from a live performance.”

Much like with their pianos, Steinway & Sons have continued to improve the Spirio technology, refining with each iteration; expanding its musical reach through an ever-growing catalogue of bespoke performances, whilst enhancing that reality in performance; that delicately nuanced emotion that each pianist conveys in their own unique playing style.

And it is this latest advancement that brings me to Hamburg and their famed acoustic concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie. On entering and taking my seat, nothing seemed amiss, with the now customary sight of a Steinway & Sons grand piano elegantly set in the centre of a golden oak-coloured stage. It was when the much-anticipated live performance was set to take place however, that we began to notice something strange was occurring. The performance was due to be given by world renown pianist Lang Lang, but no pianist entered, he rather appeared on a screen set above the stage. It was a live performance, albeit not on the piano we could see; it was being live streamed from a piano the Steinway & Sons Spirio Studio located opposite the Steinway factory on the outskirts of the Hamburg. In front of us, we could see the keys moving in symphonic tandem with the performance on screen, with the emanating sound organic and rich — a true Steinway experience. The technology on display was SPIRIOCAST, a new Steinway & Sons software that allows pianists to perform live performances from one Spirio I r piano to another in real time, wherever in the world they may be.

SPIRIOCAST performance by Lang Lang | Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images

“We’re extremely excited to introduce SPIRIOCAST – the first of its kind, SPIRIOCAST shows the power of innovation and how it helps us to stay relevant in today’s digitalised and connected world. It also offers music enthusiasts a unique experience – and, for all pianists out there, completely new creative possibilities.”

Guido Zimmermann, President Steinway & Sons Europe

Rest assured Lang Lang did appear in person for the second half of his performance, giving us the live experience that many of us had initially anticipated, whist showcasing the versatility — and potential — of the Spirio | r piano when paired with the SPIRIOCAST software. For instance even duets can be played remotely, with one artist present and the other in a remote location; just one of the plethora of potential use cases for Steinway & Sons new technology.


Lang Lang | Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images
Lang Lang | Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images

While you could consider classical music more is a niche, Steinway & Sons annual output isn’t limited by demand, but rather enforced by the extreme care and time taken to create each Steinway & Sons masterpiece. At a push, they can produce around 1200 pianos each year, with that total now comprising of a growing number of Spirio and Spirio | r grand pianos — and as well they should.

This Spirio | r technology requires such care and precision when being integrated into their instruments, they cannot be retro-fit to existing Steinway & Sons grand pianos. With the added flexibility this new technology affords owners, all without impacting famed Steinway & Sons performance, the choice is now less about whether to have the Spirio | r technology in your piano, and more about which Steinway grand piano to have it in.

Lang Lang | Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images

The SPIRIOCAST is a triumph music, but more so it is a lesson to all classical brands on how to innovate without compromising legacy. The SPIRIOCAST not only has changed the nature of the live classical music, it also rewards the artists — such as Lang Lang — that dedicated countless hours in pursuit of mastery, and now get to share that gift all over the world at will. Now that really is magic.



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