About The Piano
Shigeru Kawai pianos are one of the most highly respected, and secretive pianos in the world. Many people have heard of them, but few actually know what they are, or where they come from. Firstly, the piano is a descendent of the Kawai Corporation, a company that is known primarily for building reliable, mid-range, institutional and home pianos. But it is far from a fancied-up Kawai. The Shigeru project was a special division of Kawai which was created back in the 1970’s by then-president Shigeru Kawai. It wasn’t at that time labelled the “shigeru” project, but simply S. Kawai. The goal of the project was to design and build Japan’s first and foremost world-class concert grand piano. Both Yamaha and Kawai previously had concert-level instruments that were well respected in school circles, but neither were appearing on the world’s fine concert stages. That was almost exclusively Steinway’s domain.
The materials of the piano were to be a mix of modern and ancient – work on what would become Kawai’s Millennium III action began, with trials on using carbon composites for the action components. At the same time, Kawai envisioned one of the largest stockpiles of exotic hardwoods and maples, to be dried and cured over a decade, and then supply the project for decades to come. Matoa, maples, beeches, Ezo spruce, mahogany, and hornbeam were collected and set to dry for close to 25 years.
The pianos construction process is probably the most unique element to the piano. From the outset of Shigeru’s dream, Kawai began recruiting and training the very best piano craftsman they could find, and eventually settled on a little more than a dozen Master Piano Artisans (MPA’s). The concept was to give ownership of each piano to an individual – when you purchase a Shigeru, it’s not a factory that built it…it’s a single person, whose name you know, and whose face you see. To our knowledge, this is the only performance piano whose builders demand this level of personal ownership. Each piano is hand-made, and as the pianos are sold around the world, the MPA that built it is given a small plaque to show who and where their creation was eventually delivered.