May 20 – Peter Sumner – Celebration of Life

Celebrating Peter Sumner – he will be missed greatly!

There will be a celebration of Peter’s life on May 20 at 4pm at the home of Monroe Lovelady and Rik Augustin (potluck) in Penn Valley. 

All of us at InConcert Sierra are saddened by the death of our lead piano technician, Peter (Pete) David Sumner, who passed away on March 29, 2019 at the age of 68.

Peter exhibited minor stroke-like symptoms while in Grass Valley for our January Third Sunday Concert featuring pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin. In mid-February, he was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare and fatal brain ailment. Friends and family are thankful that the progression of the disease was very quick.









Four years ago, Peter had sent a text to Ken Hardin with a clip of a Marc-André Hamelin rehearsing. Peter was the lead technician at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado and had been prepping the piano for Hamelin’s performance, and was blown away. “You’ve got to get this guy, check this out!” he wrote in his text. Ken was able to book Marc-André, which really delighted Peter. Although Peter spent the weekend in the hospital, he was released in time to hear the last piece of January’s program and beamed with pride.

We met Peter in 2009 when we were having difficulty with our Grotrian Concert piano remaining stable through performances. Ken Hardin and Aileen James put their heads together and sought the wisdom of several tuners and technicians. They ultimately chose Steinway piano technician Peter Sumner. After he worked on the piano in October, the board and staff simply fell in love with both Peter and his work. “The instrument that emerged after a days work really amazed me,” he said. “The piano is now very stable and sounds magnificent but will require regular care and attention to maintain it at this level of performance. It has been very gratifying for me to be involved in this project and I am very grateful for all the positive comments that have been made by performers and audience members.” Today, ten years later, we remain grateful to Peter for his exceptional talents and a lifetime of great memories. He became a dear friend to so many.

Pete was born in Sheffield, England on April 21,1950. He had careers as a banker in Bermuda and England, as well as a folk musician and presenter. In 1985 he enrolled in the Piano Tuning and Maintenance Program at Newark (England) Technical College and became a sought after, brilliant piano technician. In 1998 he moved to the United States and became a US citizen in 2007. The highlights of his career are being one of the top techs for Steinway Piano Company, his positions as curator of pianos at Stanford University, head piano technician at the Aspen Music Festival and the Brevard Music Center, and the lead technician for InConcert. He loved coming to Grass Valley, a place he called “his second home.”

Pete is survived by his wife Lynn O’Brien of San Anselmo, his daughters Rachel Henry (husband Jay) and Elizabeth Dungworth (Richard); and five beloved grandchildren.

There will be a celebration of Peter’s life on May 20 at 4pm at the home of Monroe Lovelady and Rik Augustin (potluck) in Penn Valley.  Please bring something to share, both food and stories.

For more information, please contact the InConcert Sierra office at 530-273-3990.


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