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New MIT harpsichord to debut in Killian

A concert featuring the world premiere of a composition by alumnus Christopher Adler (SB '94) will 'launch' MIT's new harpsichord, on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5pm in Killian Hall.

The nine-foot double manual harpsichord with a 16-foot stop was made specifically for MIT by Cambridge instrument-maker Eric Herz. The harpsichord, a stringed instrument resembling a grand piano but usually having two keyboards and two or more strings for each note, produces tones by the plucking of strings with quills or leather points.

Martin Pearlman, founder and director of Boston Baroque, North America's first permanent Baroque orchestra, will premiere things that flow by Mr. Adler, who holds degrees from MIT in music and mathematics and a master's degree in music composition from Duke University. Now a PhD candidate in music composition at Duke, Mr. Adler sought to create a continuous, flowing and gentle sound throughout things that flow, differing, he says, from the harpsichord's usual "bright machine-gun sound."

The title of the work, said Mr. Adler, comes from a line in Passage to Buddha, a Korean movie. "It reflects a Buddhist sentiment about being open to the flow of circumstances rather than desiring to change them."

The dedication concert will also include student ensemble performances of works by Fasch and Handel and Bach (including Brandenburg Concerto No. 5), conducted by Professor Marcus Thompson, with Mr. Pearlman on the harpsichord.

Housed in Killian Hall, the harpsichord will be regularly used by the MIT Chamber Chorus and the Chamber Music Society in addition to the performance each semester of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto for the Introduction to Western Music class. "The instrument will be a tremendous asset for demonstrations in several of our pre-Classical classes," said Professor Peter Child, head of the music section.

The harpsichord purchase was funded in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT, who requested that a commissioned piece written specifically for the instrument be included as part of the grant.

For more information, call x3-2906.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 12, 1997.

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