Volume LVNovember 2008Number 4

Restoring Music to their Souls

The action of a grand piano has thousands of moving parts, all of which must be adjusted to work together seamlessly.

Thirty years ago, the Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill received a wonderful gift: a Steinway grand piano, which has brought life to resident programming programs in a way that few other instruments could have.

Musicians and piano technicians generally believe that the finest Steinway pianos ever built were manufactured between 1890 and 1940. This was the "Golden Age" of American piano manufacturing and the quality of handwork that was put into these pianos makes them quite desirable. The village's piano was completed in the Steinway Factory on Aug. 3, 1907, and shipped to Philadelphia on Aug. 20, 1907. Unfortunately, use, wear and age had all taken their toll on the beautiful instrument. It had been repaired a few times, had not held a tuning very well for several years, and the action was no longer responsive to players' touch.

Fortunately, staff found the Cunningham Piano Company in Philadelphia, which specializes in bringing these instruments back to their original glory. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania had used this company to restore their Steinway grand piano and were very pleased. Many other area musicians and piano technicians also recommended the company.

Piano restoration is always custom work. It takes many months and involves duplicating some original components by hand that lose their resilience as the piano ages. The materials for this work are chosen very carefully, the execution must be done flawlessly, and the final fit of these components must be seamless for the piano to perform well again.

Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill resident Ethel Mould plays the newly restored Steinway. Previously she was the pianist at Green Creek Church in Green Creek, N.J. Playing a piano of this quality has brought her much joy.

The work performed by Cunningham Piano Company took more than six months and cost thousands of dollars, but the time and cost were all well worth the investment. A premier, world class instrument, such as this Steinway, uses woods and techniques in its manufacture that are all but unavailable today. It would be difficult - next to impossible - to replace this instrument with a new one that would perform the same way. Any new piano that would come close to this instrument would cost many times over what was spent on the restoration.

The restored piano was recently revealed and has received nothing but rave reviews from residents and visiting musicians alike. The case has been restored to its original luster, the interior looks as if it has just come from the Steinway factory, and the warm sound is absolutely without equal. The residents and staff are very proud to be able to enjoy this piano again and, with proper care, will continue to enjoy it for many, many years.

We gratefully acknowledge the many donors who made this project possible: Anonymous, Cunningham Piano Company; Lodge No. 2, Philadelphia; Palestine-Roxborough Lodge No. 135, Philadelphia; SEPANPHA; Barbara Shields; The Grand Master's Charity Golf Tournament - Eastern PA; and Williamson-Corinthian Lodge No. 368, Philadelphia.


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