KQED’s Truly CA Kicks Off Seventh Season of Films with Miracle in a Box

— Premieres on KQED Public Television 9 on Sunday, May 22 at 6pm —

May 3, 2011 San Francisco, CA — It drove like a truck, but they wanted it to play like a dream.  The inspirational tale of a piano reborn will kick off a new season of independent documentaries about life in the Golden State when KQED’s documentary film series Truly CA returns this May. Academy Award-winning filmmaker John Korty’s Miracle in a Box, narrated by acclaimed actor John Lithgow, airs on Sunday, May 22 at 6pm on KQED 9.

Acclaimed as “completely captivating” (Pacific Sun) and “a can’t-miss” (San Francisco Magazine), Miracle in a Box looks at the magic possible in a classic instrument. The film was named Best Documentary at the 2010 California Independent Film Festival and won the Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film at the 2010 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. It was an official selection for the 2009 Mill Valley Film Festival, 2009 Port Townsend Film Festival, 2010 Sundial Film Festival, and 2010 Mendocino Film Festival.

The documentary looks at what one person gave away, what another person won, and how a small group of local artisans gave new life to something old. When a 1927 Steinway grand piano in need of serious restoration was bequeathed to the music department at the University of California at Berkeley, it was done so with the stipulation that it be given to “a worthy student of piano.” To find that most “worthy student,” the department created the First Berkeley Piano Competition.

Miracle in a Box highlights the restoration work done for the piano at the Alameda workshop of Callahan Piano Service. Performances from the Berkeley competition provide the soundtrack for the film while the Callahan Piano artisans take apart and rebuild the instrument, hewing to standards as precise as a tenth of a gram. The close relationships and easy humor of the crew show through as they work on the 6,000 parts of a piano using tools ranging from chisels and hammers to tiny glass beads.

The winner of the competition is revealed with a debut on their Steinway grand at a party given in the workshop. The celebration is not only about talent, but also about the dedication of craftspeople who give good performers a means to play better than they had imagined possible.

Miracle in a Box features Garrick Ohlsson, touring concert pianist; Jake Heggie, opera composer; Tammy Hall, jazz artist; Frederick Hodges, music stylist; Jerry Kuderna, pianist; and Steve Willis, blues and boogie songwriter and performer. John Lithgow narrates the film.

Truly CA films will continue this summer with more stories of life in the Golden State. More information, film descriptions, and previews are available at kqed.org/trulyca.

About Truly CA

Winner of five Northern California Emmy Awards, Truly CA is KQED’s series of independent documentaries about life in the Golden State. Since 2007, select Truly CA films have been presented by KQED to stations throughout California. It airs monthly on Sundays at 6pm on KQED 9.  Truly CA is a KQED production presented in association with the California Council for the Humanities.

About KQED

KQED (kqed.org) has served Northern California for more than 50 years and is affiliated with NPR and PBS. KQED owns and operates public television stations KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area), KTEH 54 (San Jose/Bay Area), and KQET 25 (Watsonville/Monterey); KQED Public Radio (88.5FM San Francisco and 89.3FM Sacramento); the interactive platforms kqed.org, kteh.org, and KQEDnews.org; and KQED Education. KQED Public Television, one of the nation’s most-watched public television stations, is the producer of local and national series such as QUEST; Check, Please! Bay Area; This Week in Northern California; Truly CA; and Essential Pépin. KQED’s digital television channels include 9HD, Life, World, Kids, and V-me, and are available 24/7 on Comcast.  KQED Public Radio, home of Forum with Michael Krasny and The California Report, is one of the most-listened-to public radio stations in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service delivering more than eighteen local newscasts daily.  KQED Interactive provides KQED’s cross-platform news service, KQEDnews.org, as well as offers several popular local blogs, video and audio podcasts, and a live radio stream at kqed.org. KQED Education brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents, and the general public through workshops, community screenings, and multimedia resources.


Media Contact: Meredith Gandy

(415) 553-2116 or mgandy@kqed.org