In Could, Daniel Epstein was set to carry out Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2. There was only one downside: The usual 7-foot grand on the Broadway Presbyterian Church in Morningside Heights wasn’t grand sufficient.
So the Higher West Sider did what any keyboardist of his stature would do: He referred to as Steinway & Sons, picked out a 9-foot live performance grand from its Astoria manufacturing facility, and waited for the corporate to ship the instrument to the church — which three movers had to take aside and get by a slender doorway.
“It’s not one thing I do lots,” says Epstein, 72. “However you’ll be able to’t play Brahms on simply any piano.”
If you happen to’ve ever seen Emanuel Ax at Carnegie Corridor, Jason Moran at Lincoln Middle or indie-folk star Regina Spektor at Brooklyn Metal, likelihood is the piano they performed was prepped, polished and supplied by Steinway itself. The NYC-based firm has a whole fleet of coordinators, movers and technicians devoted to getting grade-A grands to their elite clients, irrespective of the place they’re.
“We as soon as received a Steinway to Antarctica,” says Vivian Chiu, director of Steinway’s artist-services division, which handles these requests. “I believe with sufficient lead time, we may do something.”
The Steinway Artists program is sort of as outdated as Steinway itself, courting again to the late 1800s. Early members embrace Rachmaninoff, Duke Ellington and Cole Porter. Now, its roster boasts some 2,000 musicians, starting from virtuosos reminiscent of Lang Lang to pop stars like Billy Joel, who can demand a piano wherever, anytime, anyhow.
The corporate retains about 150 grands for these artists in New York Metropolis — with an extra couple hundred scattered at dealerships world wide. Some musicians desire a particular piano, however more often than not, Chiu’s crew will decide a handful, based mostly on the style and repertoire of the artist, who then chooses one. Then Steinway may have the instrument polished, tuned and transported. What’s extra, one of many firm’s eight or so technicians might be assigned to tune and “voice” the piano, or modify its tone or high quality of sound, as soon as it arrives on the venue — and once more earlier than showtime.
The corporate waives the rental payment, however somebody — both the artist, the venue or a sponsor — should decide up the transport prices, which begin at $1,000 for an easy, native transfer. However the quantity can shortly escalate into the lots of of hundreds while you’re attempting to airlift a piano to, say, the highest of Brazil’s Corcovado mountain. That, by the way in which, was the one time Steinway wasn’t ready to ship.
Invoice Hennessy, who’s moved pianos for Steinway for greater than 20 years, recollects the time Hélène Grimaud requested one for a live performance on the Park Avenue Armory, which she needed to flood with 122,000 gallons of water as she performed aquatic-inspired works.
‘Individuals are loopy — they’re like, ‘I’ll do no matter it takes to get that piano!’’
“You’ll be able to’t get a piano moist, as a result of that might destroy it,” Hennessy, proprietor of Keyboard Specific, tells The Submit.
“Even the humidity of getting it in such a moist atmosphere may have an effect on it.” So each afternoon, for its almost two-week run, a personnel put in a collection of boards and planks to get the piano out and drain the corridor earlier than wheeling it safely again in place.
Melody Brown, who along with her 4 siblings makes up the piano quintet the 5 Browns, remembers the time Steinway delivered — to a collapse Halfway, Utah, the place the group shot a video.
“It was tremendous heat and humid and also you had to cross 90 toes of water to get to it,” she says. “However they didn’t hesitate in any respect.”
Chiu says she tells pianists that it’s first come, first served. “After which the bribes come,” she says. “Individuals are loopy — they’re like, ‘I’ll do no matter it takes to get that piano!’ ”
However she and others concerned with this system say it’s all price it ultimately. Whether or not it’s Ludovico Einaudi enjoying a piano in Antarctica, surrounded by glaciers, or jazz artist Arturo O’Farrill performing for NYC college students, “these artists go above and past for us,” she says. “We simply need to do the identical for them.”