Cunningham's experience in restoring pianos has led to the 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 shop'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 American-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 Chinese production facility that manufactures the Hailun brand. The Matchless Cunningham is available in two smaller grand sizes for the home, two larger grand sizes for concert work, and two studio uprights. Although the Matchless was originally intended for only the Philadelphia market, Cunningham's current plan is to distribute it nationally.
The staff at Cunningham has also developed a studio upright called the Cunningham Composer, based on the Matchless. A touchscreen computer monitor is built into the Composer's front panel, a MIDI recording strip is installed beneath the piano keys, and a Mac mini computer is mounted under the keybed. The piano keystrokes of the Composer can be instantly recorded, and the music notated on an onscreen musical staff, printed out via a computer printer, and offered to the public via the Internet before the proverbial ink is dry. With an open-architecture approach that can interface with any commercially available music-notation software, the Cunningham Composer is a versatile instrument with as many options as the computer age can offer.
Decades ago, Patrick Cunningham offered $10,000 to anyone who presented conclusive evidence that they could make a better piano than he could. Because no one ever took him up on his offer, he named his piano Matchless. It is bold concepts such as this that, even today, still echo through the halls of the Cunningham Piano Company.
Tim Oliver and Rich Galassini are owners of Cunningham Piano Company. Visit their website at www.cunninghampiano.com.