NORWALK, Conn. – When Kenneth Kuo takes to the stage these days, he plays cellos that cost millions to make. Most Norwalk students won’t get that opportunity, but Kuo firmly believes that all musicians should have access to high-quality instruments.
“Educating the next generation to be musicians is really a joy for me,” Kuo says. “And being able to hand them an instrument and to see them play…to put that smile on their face, there’s words to describe how wonderful that feeling is.”
Kuo is preparing to open the headquarters of his business, Rental Instrument LLC, on Main Avenue in Norwalk. To celebrate the opening, and to help the students of his new community, he will offer a donation of $100,000 to the music programs of Norwalk Public Schools at his grand opening this weekend.
Educated at Julliard and Yale, Kuo is a professional concert cellist who has performed in Carnegie Hall and other world-renowned venues. He started Rental Instruments in 2000 as an extension of the Connecticut School of Music’s locations in Westport and Greenwich, which he also founded.
The business allows families and professionals to rent a variety of instruments for music lessons or performances. Rental Instruments’ stock includes more than 10,000 pieces, many custom-made with Kuo’s input. All of the band instruments and many of the strings have never been played before, so “they’re still waiting for that first child to put their hands on them,” he says.
Rental Instruments had been operating online and out of the Connecticut School of Music’s three locations. Kuo recently opened a new headquarters specifically for the rental business on Main Avenue.
Kuo has longstanding ties to Norwalk. The Norwalk Concert Hall was the site of one of his first major concerts at age 12. He says he now sees a need for high-quality instruments in the city and is ready to work with teachers to provide them. His $100,000 in-kind donation will cover repair work and rentals for students in need.
“When I look at Norwalk Public Schools, I see amazing teachers. But the equipment? Not so hot,” Kuo says. “So when is see that there is a need, without hesitation I said, ‘Let’s see what I can do for the town.’”
Rental Instrument is now open at 547 Main Ave., Norwalk. For more information, visit the store's website.