While my dad had taught me the basics of piano tuning when I was 15, I really did not begin my career as a concert piano technician until I met George Winston. In the early 90’s I was in a professional transition in my life and had built a small number of piano clients in Anchorage, Alaska.
I have had the great privilege of working with many extraordinary pianists in my life but none more kind and gracious than Mr. Ramsey Lewis. Most performers like for the piano upon which they are to perform to be tuned prior to their “sound check”, then touched up prior to the doors opening for the performance, and sometimes touched up again at intermission. As a technician, you never really know what you are getting yourself into from one performer to the next even though the piano may never change.
I saw the twinkle in my dad’s eye and a slight grin. His facial features had given it away. There was only one pianist in the world that made him look like that. We did not use the acronym G.O.A.T. at that time but we were clearly listening to the greatest of all time as far as my dad was concerned. “That’s Oscar Peterson!” I shouted. “Yes, it is.” My dad said with great satisfaction.
I first met Olga in September 2003. All of Alaska was abuzz that someone of her fame and talent would come to Alaska. I must admit, I was a bit nervous preparing her piano. She had been touring extensively since her Van Cliburn triumph in 2001 and I really did not know what to expect from someone of her musical stature.
I, along with most of the musical world, was saddened to hear of the passing of Chick Corea this past week. His passing prompted several memories of my interactions with him while he was in Alaska that I thought I would share.