Brandywine Baroque presents ‘Harpsichord Heaven’

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    (Photo via ShutterStock)

    The harpsichord takes center stage this weekend when Brandywine Baroque presents the second annual “Harpsichord Heaven.”

    The performances will take place at The Barn at Flintwoods in Centreville, Brandywine Baroque’s performance venue and recording studio.

    It’s where harpsichordist and collector Karen Flint houses 14 rare, restored keyboard instruments of various vintages and nationalities. This collection includes the seven harpsichords that will be played by many of the world’s most renowned performers and scholars this weekend.

    In fact, it was the artists themselves who dubbed the event “Harpsichord Heaven.”

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    “The musicians said coming here to play on these instruments is like playing in heaven,” said Flint, the ensemble’s artistic director. “They said this is ‘harpsichord heaven.’”

    Artists not only get the rare opportunity to perform on vintage instruments, they also get the chance to interact with their colleagues in performance—a rare occurrence in the world of period instruments.

    “The camaraderie here is amazing,” said harpsichordist Adam Pearl, who will perform a program of Bach preludes and fugues.

    The schedule of events

    The event opens on Friday evening with a reception and a meet-and-greet with the artists and instruments. British-born, Berkeley-based harpsichordist/scholar Davitt Moroney will then discuss the mechanics and form of the Bach fugues and perform some of the composer’s works.

    Saturday’s 12-hour marathon session will feature some well-known and not-so-well-known music. Canadian harpsichordist Luc Beausejour will play J. S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” Flint plans to perform works by d’Anglebert, Chambonnieres and Lebegue.

    “Lebegue is also an organist. His harpsichord music is less well-known but is very beautiful,” said Flint, who began her musical training on the organ.

    Some artists have planned themed concerts. Faythe Vollrath will play a program featuring the music of father-and- son composers J.S. and C.P.E. Bach and Antoine and Jean-Baptiste Forqueray. Arthur Haas will perform music by Italian composers who lived and worked outside of Italy, notably Lully, Draghi and Poglietti.

    Sunday’s program closes the event with a finale that will feature multiple players on multiple harpsichords.

    Haas will join two other players on a single harpsichord to perform works by Vincenzo Panerai and Wilhelm Friedrich Bach. In addition, ten harpsichordists will play on five instruments in arrangements of Handel’s “Water Music Suite” and the “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from the oratorio Solomon.

    Also planned is a performance of a J.S. Bach concerto on two instruments: one performer will assume the role of the soloist, the other the orchestra. Lastly, Flint said there will be some surprise selections from the canon of the late harpsichordist Don Angle, who played modern music on the instrument.

    “It should be a lot of fun,” she said.

    The 40-minute concerts take place on the hour. Patrons can purchase tickets for the entire weekend or select from the performances that interest them. Last year, the event drew 600 people, including one patron who traveled from California to attend.

    “I don’t know anywhere else in the world where you can hear ten harpsichordists play on the same weekend,” said Flint.“I don’t know any place else where this happens and on antique instruments, even less.”

    The performances will take place Friday, April 25 through Sunday. April 27 The Barn at Flintwoods, 205 Center Meeting Road, Centreville, Del. For the complete schedule and ticket information, go to  The Flint Collection was featured on the August 2nd 2013 episode of ‘First’ check it out.

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