A New Addition to The Music Center

July 28th, 2014 in Blog with NO COMMENTS

A New Addition to The Music Center: An 18th century French style Harpsichord.

Built by Peter Watchorn, Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB) welcomes the newest addition to our instrument collection: an 18th century French style harpsichord. The acquisition of this beautiful and unique instrument will invite Early Music enthusiasts to study and appreciate the harpsichord and its music through lessons and concerts at CMCB.

The harpsichord together with the clavichord was the main keyboard instrument played in homes and salons for centuries prior to the “birth” of the early piano.  The main difference between a piano and a harpsichord is in the way sound is made.  The harpsichord produces sound by means of plucking the strings. Originally, the plucking plectrum was made of bird’s quill. This sound, now produced by a plastic plectrum, perhaps reminds the listener of a classical guitar.  The piano, on the other hand, uses a hammer that hits the strings with variable force, therefore making it a dynamically capable instrument.  The harpsichord doesn’t have the same ability for dynamics, but it has its own way of varying volume – the way to make it sound louder is to engage a second (or a third) set of strings, similar to engaging more groups of pipes on an organ.

The Music Center is extremely lucky to have a harpsichord expert on staff.  Nickolai Sheikov has been teaching piano at The Music Center for 6 years.  However, Nickolai’s studies, love, and performances have mainly been dedicated to the harpsichord and its repertoire.

“I was a piano major at New England Conservatory of Music (NEC).  I always saw this beautiful instrument, the harpsichord, next to the piano room I would practice in.  After having a chance to play the instrument, I immediately knew I wanted to changed my major and spend the next four years solely studying the harpsichord.  I stayed at NEC to complete my Masters in Harpsichord Performance and went on to attend several master classes in the Netherlands, including with a pioneer of harpsichord performance in the 20th century, Gustav Leonhardt.”

Nickolai recommends that those who have a specific interest in early music consider lessons on the harpsichord.  Curious and talented piano students might also appreciate the chance to explore Bach on the harpsichord to see a different point of view on the same music.  And lastly, as Nickolai did, he recommends beginning students who fall in love with the sound of the harpsichord to explore this interesting and memorable instrument.

“If I can make my students fall in love with the music they play, regardless of the instrument, then I believe I am a successful teacher.  Music is always more important that the instrument itself.”

Nickolai will be performing on CMCB’s new harpsichord on Thursday, January 15th at 7:00PM as part of the John Kleshinski Concert Series.  For more information and to register for lessons, please contact our Registration team at 617-482-7494 or info@cmcb.org.




Leave a Reply