NEWS

One-of-a-kind harpsichord in tune at Greenwood Church

Posted 3/9/22

Greenwood Church recently became home to an instrument rarely found in local houses of worship: a harpsichord, an historic keyboard instrument which predates the modern piano.

This harpsichord was …

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NEWS

One-of-a-kind harpsichord in tune at Greenwood Church

Posted

Greenwood Church recently became home to an instrument rarely found in local houses of worship: a harpsichord, an historic keyboard instrument which predates the modern piano.

This harpsichord was built by retired New York University physics professor Paul Abrahams of Hadley, Massachusetts in 1976, with materials and designs provided by the Zuckerman Harpsichord Manufacturers according to historic specifications. Although Dr. Abrahams never took up harpsichord study, he combined his interest in historical music performance with his knowledge of physics to complete the year-long building project of the instrument. Dr. Abrahams recently listed the instrument for sale through a national harpsichord consignment network, attracting the attention of John Black, Greenwood’s director of music and a student of sacred music and historical keyboard instruments at Boston University with Peter Sykes.

The instrument was transported to Rhode Island in late February, and after forty-five years of little public exposure, was presented to the congregation in the following week’s service of worship. At Greenwood, the harpsichord will not only be used for the church’s concert series and summer chamber music performances, but also as a part of worship services on a regular basis - something difficult to find in this area. In addition to Black, the church’s music staff includes Alexandra Nichols, a music student at Rhode Island College who is receiving training in Baroque violin performance practice, Olivia Black, director of choral music at Wheeler High School in North Stonington, C.T., and four current Rhode Island College voice majors, all of whom lead the church’s thirty-member Chancel Choir in worship each week.

With this new instrument and tradition of excellent music, Greenwood positions itself as a haven for historically-informed performance of sacred music for the wider Rhode Island music community.

The instrument will be used as part of the spring performance of the Greenwood Concert Choir, the church’s community chorus, on Sunday, May 1 at 3:00 p.m. in a free program of sacred music open to the public, and will be featured in chamber music recitals at the church this summer.

harpsichord, Greenwood Church

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