Symphony Space and Steinway & Sons
Recently, I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Steinway & Sons factory in Queens. You might not think that a tour of a piano manufacturer would be all that interesting, but trust me, it was! Walking through the Steinway & Sons factory was like taking a trip back in time to observe an artisan tradition that doesn’t appear to have changed in decades, if not centuries.
So why was I at Steinway & Sons you might ask? Well, the big news is that Symphony Space and Steinway & Sons are creating a new partnership. Starting this season, Symphony Space becomes a Steinway house! I was lucky enough to kick off this new relationship with a behind-the-scenes tour of Steinway & Sons factory.
In June, a group of us — with Symphony Space Board Members including pianist-composer Tania Leon — went to the factory for a tour and most importantly to choose pianos for the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre and Leonard Nimoy Thalia. The most fascinating part for me was actually seeing the manufacturing process, seemingly unchanged for generations as I mentioned above. Each piano has 12,000 parts and is worked on by a team of craftspeople, taking countless hours of fine-tuned labor. No computer technologies or mass production techniques were to be seen at the factory. This attention to detail and artisan tradition explain why Steinway & Sons pianos are treasured by so many musicians and widely regarded as the greatest of musical instruments.
I was amazed to learn that it takes more than 12 months to build a single Steinway & Sons piano. Also, that the factory in Queens employs more than 300 highly skilled craftspeople to make only 1,200 pianos each year. Imagine the hours and skill that go into each of those magnificent instruments!
To celebrate Symphony Space’s new partnership with Steinway & Sons, we have created an afternoon recital series called Steinway Salon. Curated by Jed Distler, the series features leading pianists performing a wide variety of piano music. The first concert in this series is on September 22nd at 1pm and features Jerry Kuderna playing Claude Debussy’s incomparable Etudes (written in 1915 and part of Project Fifteen).
If you do get an opportunity to visit the Steinway & Sons factory, I would highly recommend it. And don’t forget to come to our brand new Steinway Salon series, so that you can hear these gorgeous instruments in the intimate space of the Leonard Nimoy Thalia.