Boston Grand Extolled After Rigorous Performance at The Straz Center

As seen in the Winter 2016 edition of the Boston Chronicle

 

The stage crew at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts gave Kevin Patterson a behind-the-scenes warning: “Murder for Two” in the Jaeb Theater could be murder on pianos. With each of two actors in multiple roles either playing songs or providing accompaniment, the 90-minute musical comedy demanded a stout-hearted instrument, they said.

“It was one good test of integrity for the Boston grand piano,” says Patterson, one of the region’s premier piano technicians working with the Music Gallery in Clearwater. Music Gallery’s Jonathan Hunt delivered a Steinway-designed Boston GP-163 for the small theaters and rehearsal hall at the sprawling world-class venue that stretches along the east bank of the Hillsborough River. “I was slightly nervous when they told me they usually were rough on pianos and typically break strings,” Patterson recalls. “But the piano and I made it through the service schedule, and the Boston held up tremendously well. They were impressed by the tuning and tone throughout the entire two-and-a-half month production, and there were no broken strings!”

Taking piano lessons since the second grade, Patterson decided to parlay his earliest of passions into an excellent trade. He connected with a few technicians and learned some basics while working for a small shop in 1999. “The first few years were tough at times, and I had my doubts about continuing, but I pressed on, and after a few more years I built my business to where I was working almost full time on pianos.”

 

‘I always feel confident recommending Boston pianos to pianists and institutions because of their excellent quality.’

 

John Philips, a local legend, did most of the tunings for performance venues including the Straz and Ruth Eckerd Hall. “I was blessed to be his apprentice and fill in as his backup if he ever had to miss a tuning. John passed away a few years ago, but he’ll always be remembered as one of the best piano tuners in the Tampa Bay area,” says Patterson, who went on to become one of the official tuners for Ruth Eckerd Hall and has been servicing the Straz and the Florida Orchestra since 2012.

With more than 16 years’ experience at the Music Gallery – including classes at the Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria and the Steinway Technical Training Program at Oberlin College – Patterson is no stranger to Boston pianos. “I always feel confident recommending Boston pianos to pianists and institutions because of their excellent quality. The first thing that comes to mind is the consistent tone that the hammers produce. Voicing the piano is just as important as the tuning, and the Boston hammers are very predictable. The dynamic range and power that they achieve are quite impressive. This makes it an ideal instrument for the Straz Center’s rehearsal hall and small theaters,” he observes.

Originally known as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the Straz opened in 1987 and offers a cultural smorgasbord of Broadway musicals, opera, dance, children’s theater, and multi-genre concerts. It is one of the only performing arts centers in the nation with an onsite, fully-accredited performing arts academy – the renowned Patel Conservatory

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