Monday, July 14, 2008

Harpsichord visit...

In the fall of 2007 the Catacoustic Consort received a grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Abraham, Katie Eleanor, and Natalie Feld Memorial Fund for the purchase of a harpsichord. I was lucky enough to find an instrument that was in fine playing shape thanks to the repair work of Ben Bechtel in Columbus, Ohio. We have since used our new instrument in several concerts and are excited about the programming possibilities that this instrument will afford us - and other music ensembles in the region.
I received a phone call recently that the maker of the harpsichord, James Campbell was in town along with Martha Folts, the woman for whom he made the instrument. In addition, they were with Nina Key, who helped build the instrument. They all came over tomy home to visit this instrument, which was made in 1982 right here in Cincinnati. Soon after making this harpsichord, Mr. Campbell stopped making instruments to become an Episcopalian priest. It was a pleasure to have Jim, Nina, and Martha over. Martha was practically in tears, as she said it was like visiting a family member. She said that the sound has improved greatly and is even richer than she remembered.
Catacoustic is presenting a harpsichord inauguration concert in November 2008, and we hope to have Mr. Campbell back to offer a pre-concert talk to talk about being a harpsichord pioneer in Cincinnati in the 1970's and 80's. Believe it or not, there was a lot of harpsichord activity in the city back then. A historical keyboard society was formed with numerous members. The society hosted conventions, even bringing the famous harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt to Cincinnati to perform and lecture. (Incidentally, Leonhardt performed on Catacoustic's harpsichord!) Noted harpsichord maker Ben Bechtel was also in Cincinnati making instruments, in addition to Larry Brown, the well-known lute maker. Cincinnati played a key role in the revival of early instrument making!

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