New York Works: Carnegie Hall's Piano Tuner
Monday, May 30, 2011 - 12:00 AM
As piano tuner for Steinway & Sons, Ismael Cunha's role as a concert technician at Carnegie Hall means he must keep the pianos in pitch-perfect condition.
Cunha, originally from Portugal, is a 25-year veteran of the craft and spends his days racing among the city's most important pianos — from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center to Broadway. On a busy Saturday he can tune up to 14 pianos, often facing the stressful deadlines.
"When you play a note, you feel, you hear ... when you put your fingers into the keys and ears into the sound, there's a feeling in the sound, too," he said. "But, it's like a body, a fullness of sound."
Cuhna uses his tuning hammers and plays notes again and again until they are in tune: "By using these rubber wedges, I’m blocking the string from vibrating," he said. "And you just move note by note."