The Victory Vertical Project with Garik Pedersen, piano

Wednesday, November 11 @ 7:30 PM EST

In presentations geared for musicians, veterans, historians, and a wide general audience, Garik Pedersen uses descriptive vignettes accompanied by piano music in many styles-classical, popular, boogie-woogie, jazz, and movie soundtracks-to bring to life a remarkable account of courage, solidarity, and the power of music.

When the United States entered the war in 1941, raw materials, including iron, copper, and brass, were diverted to the war effort, and piano makers were suddenly forced to manufacture other products or go out of business.

The Steinway factory in Astoria, Queens, New York had already begun to build gliders for troop transport and coffins (unfortunately, also for troop transport) when Henry Z. Steinway and Roman de Majewski developed a plan to build a small, lightweight, inexpensive upright piano that could be packed in a crate and shipped to soldiers in the field, supplying them with music to improve morale and strengthen resolve.

These 40-inch, boxlike instruments, which contained no more than 33 lbs. of restricted metals, came with sheet music, instructions and tools for tuning and repair, as well as handles for easy transport. The enthusiastic response to the first shipment of 405 pianos resulted in more orders for O.D.G.I. (Olive Drab Government Issue) “field” pianos, and when production ended in 1953, 2,436 “Victory Vertical” pianos had been shipped to troops on three continents, and countless hours of diversion, education, entertainment, worship, enrichment, and outreach had been provided.

Learn more: https://www.victoryvertical.com/

Garik Pedersen has taught piano at Eastern Michigan University for over 25 years. His studio, which has included undergraduate and graduate students from many U.S. states and eleven other countries, has produced prizewinners in national and international competitions, as well as numerous regional and state competitions. A Steinway artist, Pedersen’s performance career as soloist and chamber musician has taken him to venues throughout the United States and in Europe, Canada, Central America, Taiwan and the Philippine Islands. Recent appearances have included a tour of 9 cities in Taiwan (2014), Steinway Hall (New York City, 2008), Cleveland’s International Music Festival (2010), Michigan’s Gilmore Festival (2014 and 2010) and the Isidor Bajic Music School in Novi Sad, Serbia (2010). Pedersen has recorded for the Albany and Hornblower labels, and in 2008 he recorded the musical examples in the anthology that accompanies McGraw-Hill’s popular text, Music in Theory and Practice. He has presented programs for the U.S. State Department, the National Federation of Music Clubs, Music Teachers National Association, the European Piano Teachers Association, Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Associations and the Royal Conservatory of Music, as well as on numerous public television and radio broadcasts.

Dr. Pedersen has performed and taught at many summer music festivals, including Cleveland’s International Music Festival, Spokane’s Musicfest Northwest, the World Piano Conference (Serbia), Tunghai Summer Music Festival (Taiwan), Michigan’s Interlochen Arts Camp and Blue Lake Arts Festival. He also performed and taught at other music camps and festivals in Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Kentucky and Indiana. He has served as an adjudicator for piano competitions in nineteen states.

A student of Wesley True at the University of Central Missouri, which awarded him its Distinguished Alumnus in Music in 2010, Pedersen was the final DMA piano student of John Simms at the University of Iowa, graduating in 1986. Other major influences have been Gyorgy Sebok, Eugene Bossart and Edwin E. Gordon. Before coming to EMU, he taught at Iowa Wesleyan College, Hastings College and Missouri State University.

Dr. Pedersen is the immediate past president of the Michigan Music Teachers Association.