Harpsichord masterclass by Professor Terence Charlston

As part of the Chapel’s Epiphanytide Festival, Worcester College students had the opportunity to take part in an insightful and engaging masterclass given by Professor Terence Charlston, Chair of Historical Keyboard Instruments at the Royal College of Music.

Students presented a selection of works and were able to learn from Professor Charlston’s expert guidance and extensive knowledge of the repertoire, from Rameau to Purcell, from invention to Partita. This is just one of the many ways in which Worcester’s students and musical community are able to benefit from the new and varied musical experiences during the course of a typical term.

Third year music student and composer Adam Turner said:

“The harpsichord masterclass was fascinating. A particular highlight for me was hearing Terry improvise on the instrument; I was struck by the beauty and the variety of the sound he created. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to try out my piano repertoire on the harpsichord, because the experience of playing the older instrument suggested to me several new interpretative directions, which were invisible to me at the piano keyboard. I warmly recommend this class to future generations of budding keyboard players!”

Terence presented the class to an audience of guests, students and even a handful of the chapel choir’s boy choristers, each of whom had a go at playing the harpsichord before getting back to lessons.

For some, the class was their first real experience on the harpsichord, and first year student Tom Wijessinghe remarked: “I really enjoyed taking part in the masterclass. As someone with little to no prior experience at the harpsichord I found Terry welcoming and helpful to answer even the most basic questions. I particularly enjoyed the depth of the teaching, especially in regard to his historical knowledge regarding the original context of the pieces.”

For some, the class provided a thought-provoking set of ideas to apply to their piano playing:

Second year music student David Palmer finds that “as a pianist, the Worcester harpsichord masterclasses are engaging, thought-provoking, and very revealing of pianistic habits that are not necessarily well-matched to the music itself. Terry’s teaching offered new perspectives that I will be able to apply to my piano playing, and certainly motivated me to further explore the harpsichord.”

Postgraduate student Tom Metcalf played in the masterclass last year and presented a sarabande by Rameau:

“It is always a pleasure to play in the harpsichord masterclasses at Worcester. Professor. Charlston’s fantastic insights on the music of Rameau and the courtly Sarabande have encouraged me to engage with the style further and refine my technique. I’m already looking forward to the next one!”

The Chapel community and Director of Chapel Music are grateful to the support of Simon Neal for providing and tuning the harpsichord for the class and other events in the festival.

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