The 'Unseen Artist'
Imagine this scenario, ...It is a summer Saturday afternoon in your city. You have tickets for a "Night with an International Jazz Trio" at the Local Performing Arts Center.
The crew for the Center is busy setting up the stage lights, the sound technician is laying out microphones and cable, the custodians are pushing their brooms putting the final sparkle on the polished floors. The food service is prepping the backstage dressing rooms with chilled beverages and snacks for the performers.
The hiss of airbrakes arouse the stage hands as the Steinway Grand arrives at the back loading dock. Within minuets the experienced piano handlers have the 1/2 ton ‘giant’ on a dolly traveling smoothly, twisting and turning past sharp edged backstage obstacles, through doorways without a scratch. Soon the sound of rubber mallets pounding the leg blocks in place echoing in the mammoth concert hall, indicates the completion of assembly. The Concert Steinway feels warm to the touch and sounds ‘twangy’ from the heat and the ride. Without hesitation the sound tech is carefully placing microphones, while a stage hand looks at his reflection as he energetically buffs the lustrous ebony lid. Soon after the drumset arrives and spotlights begin to focus at their targets on stage. The sound check begins on the Concert Grand, followed by the redundant banging on selected drums. The stage lights surge on and off with bright colors. The Piano Tuner waits. The Jazz Pianist arrives with his entourage, He sits at the Steinway and with lightening speed plays chromatic scales covering all of the keys, he plays a few jazzy chords, tests the pedals, stands, verbalizes his approval, gives the Tuner a few words, a smile, a handshake and leaves. In minuets the stage is cleared, lights are at half power, the ‘stage hands’ have left. There is a brief calm that fills the concert hall. Then the unseen artist begins his labors.
Shortly the solitude ends... the concert hall is coming to life with all of the ‘latest fashions’ and the wonderful essence of fine perfumes, with buzz of laughter and blended conversations. After a quick snack the piano tuner sits backstage worn out, but satisfied with the piano. The Performers arrive back stage, quietly chatting in small groups dressed in tuxedos, looking very impressive. The audience hushes as the muffled voice of an announcer bleeds through the heavy curtain that is drawn. The backstage activity is suddenly still, the performers wait in the wings tugging at their sleeves and brushing off any lint. Suddenly there is a burst of applause as the curtain opens and single file the artist take their places on center stage. The Piano Tuner sits quietly as he hears the Concert Grand come to life at the fingers of a Master artist.
The first half of the program comes to an end.. the curtain closes, the performers exit the stage looking tired and sweaty. The Tuner gathers his tools for the standard ‘intermission touch up’. A quick glance at the Pianist, no indication of trouble, he heads for the piano. After checking each key for trouble, the ‘touchup tuning’ begins, 'not to bad' he thinks to himself until he gets to the upper third of the keyboard and there, some the unisons have lost their ‘edge’, no problem as he looks at his watch 15 mins. of intermission left. Working fast now he tries to think which selection did the most pounding to take the edge off, it doesn’t matter just hurry up. The muffled audience grows louder indicating that the concert hall is filling up.... time is up!!’Hurry up get your tools together leave nothing behind.’ Walking briskly off stage as the lights come to life, the Tuner finds his place backstage.
The Jazz group appears backstage in the wings again refreshed and smiling. The curtain opens, and the glorious sounds again fill the atmosphere. After the second curtain call the house lights come on and the crowd slowly disperses. As the Master Jazz artist works his way backstage among the admiration, he acknowledges the Tuner with a nod......A warm fuzzy feeling of relief comes to the Tuner as he thinks to himself...'He seems pleased' . The Tuner checks the piano for the last time to see how she ‘held up’. Not Bad! When it goes out on rent next weekend it will be a ‘piece of cake’ to put an ‘edge’ back on it if it doesn’t ‘cook’ on the back of the moving van again.
There are some programs laying around backstage. The Tuner picks up one for a souvenir. Inside the cover he sees the ‘write-up’ on the performers, as well as the history of the concert hall, the names of the people of ‘responsibility’ for the operation, the sound technician, the lighting, the company that rented the Concert Steinway, the catering, flowers, makeup, even the custodial and maintenance crews...................... no mention of the Piano Tuner........
Go back to the scenario....... What if......the
Tuner never showed up?...... What makes a Concert Steinway sound like a
Steinway? How ‘magical’ would that evening be to the ‘enlightened’
people who paid good money to hear a ‘top professional’ group perform on
a ‘state of the art’ Concert Grand that sounded like a..... ‘ Wild West
Saloon’ piano................ Now you see why we are.........the
© In-Tune Productions 2015