PHILADELPHIA, PA - - Happy 120th birthday! How many times do you get to hear that especially when it is a local family owned and operated business that has not only managed to survive in tough economic times, but thrive and continue to grow!

Cunningham Piano Company located in Philadelphia's Germantown section will honor its 120th birthday this summer with a series of free piano concerts featuring local, regional and national talent, as well as an array of pianos ranging from fully restored, historic or rare pianos including Steinway Grands to newly imported Bosendorfer Grands from Vienna.

This series, referred to as "The Collaborative Pianist", will give listeners the rare opportunity to get a glimpse into the artists mind. Each performer is encouraged to share his thoughts, ideas, and challenges presented by the pieces performed. The audience will be able to interact directly with the musicians in an intimate setting. Additionally, the performers are encouraged to select an instrument from Cunningham Pianos vast inventory that they feel best fits the material at hand.

The highlight of the series will take place July 20th when Eastern University's David Bryant will perform on an 1875 Steinway Concert Grand known internally as the Centennial Piano.

The 120th birthday celebration will culminate with a gala on-site at the showroom in late October. Monies raised from this gala will go to the newly created Cunningham Piano Scholarship Fund which will allow students in the tri-state area who might not otherwise be able to afford piano lessons, the chance to do so. This fund will work in tandem with the different programs Cunningham Piano already has in place, which include the sponsoring of international music programs, concerts, and locally based institutions such as the Philadelphia Opera Company, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, The Princeton Music Festival, and many more.

The summer concert series will launch at the showroom at 5427 Germantown Ave., June 22 at 7p.m. and feature tenor Christopher Pfund, and pianist Hugh Sung.

Universally recognized for his irreverent portrayals of the Roasting Swan in Carmina Burana, tenor Christopher Pfund has made the role a pillar of his career, performing it with countless major orchestras in North America. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel admired his "rounded vocal beauty" and The New York Times called his voice an "attractive tenor [that] helps define a sympathetic character." While best known for his oratorio work with orchestra, Pfund has also enjoyed success on the opera stage, including Glimmerglass Opera (Bardolfo in Falstaff), New York City Opera (Emilio in Handel?s Partenope) and Florentine Opera as Pong in Turandot, to name a few.

Pianist Hugh Sung has been an active soloist and chamber musician ever since his debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 11. Two years later, he was accepted for studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, where his principal teachers included Eleanor Sokoloff, Jorge Bolet, and Seymour Lipkin, along with Karen Tuttle and Felix Galimir for chamber music. Throughout his studies and subsequent to graduating with a Bachelor of Music, Sung has performed in major cities throughout the Americas, England, Canada, South Africa, Japan, and Korea. Mr. Sung has been presented at some of the world's most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Weill Hall, Wigmore Hall, The National Gallery of Art, and The Ravinia Festival. He has made several guest appearances at radio stations throughout New York City, Rochester, Philadelphia, and New Zealand, and was featured on NPR's nationally syndicated "Performance Today" performing works by Clementi, Ravel, and Mussorgksy. His concerto engagements have included performances with the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, annual appearances with the Masterworks Festival Orchestras since 1998, and extensive tours with the South Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, he was presented on Japanese National Television NHK in collaboration with violinist Aaron Rosand during a recital in the esteemed Ouji Hall in the Ginza district of Tokyo. In addition to his solo endeavors, Sung has continued to receive critical acclaim for his work as an ensemble musician. He has been featured in the Philadelphia Orchestra's Chamber Music series, and has also collaborated with such distinguished groups and artists as The American Quartet, the Diaz Trio, Jeffrey Khaner, Julius Baker, Gary Schocker, Hilary Hahn, Leila Josefowicz, composers Jennifer Higdon, Robert Maggio, Harold Boatrite, and violinist Aaron Rosand, with whom he has recorded extensively under the Biddulph and Vox labels. His work can also be heard under the I Virtuosi, CRI, and Avie labels. In 1993, Sung joined the staff of the Curtis Institute of Music and served as Director of Instrumental Accompaniment and its world-renown Student Recitals Series until his 2009 appointment as faculty Collaborative Pianist.

Cunningham Piano Company began manufacturing pianos in 1891 and, in its time, was one of the largest piano makers in Philadelphia. In Pianos and Their Makers, by Alfred Dolge, Patrick Cunningham's business was described as being "as true to the traditions of honest values in pianos as any the old Quaker City has ever produced." Composer Vincent Persichetti is quoted as having siad, "In the beginning, God created a Cunningham player piano," and the Charleston Museum in South Carolina houses the Cunningham piano on which George Gershwin composed Porgy and Bess. The original Cunningham Factory ceased production in December of 1943, due to the effects of the war effort, but at the end of the war, Louis Cohen, a piano technician for the company, purchased and reopened the buiness, and actively promoted the Cunningham brand while also turning his focus toward a booming new industry: piano restoration. Cohen's two daughters. Rose Karr and Doris Reber, continued their father's work by dedicating their 45,000 square-foot, four-story facility solely to piano restoration, while transforming a three-story facility solely to piano restoration, while transforming a three-story Masonic Temple on the same historic block into a piano showroom. In 2007, the Cohen family sold the company to Tim Oliver and Rich Galassini, two musicians with long histories with the company and close associations with the Cohen family.


Today, visitors to Cunningham Piano Company have the opportunity to take a step back in time and tour one of the largest and oldest piano restoration factories in existence. They can look over the shoulders of some of the finest craftspeople in the piano industry as they lovingly bring musical treasures back to life. Cunningham's experience in restoring pianos has led to the re-creation of its own brand, the Matchless Cunningham. In development for many years, this instrument has received rave reviews from musicians affiliated with several prestigious Philadelphia-area institutions. The creation of the Matchless was made possible by the restoration ship's intimate knowledge of the world's best suppliers of piano parts. Frank Emerson, a world-respected American piano designer, developed a new scale based on the original Philadelphia-made Cunningham. His commission was to create a balanced, warm tone from top to bottom, using high-quality piano parts and the efficient and capable production facility that manufactures the Hailun brand.

Visitors are welcome to tour the four-story factory (free by appointment) and get a first-hand look at the delicate restoration process, which begins with an instrument that shows decades of wear and ends with nothing short of a miracle.

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