Between Old Worlds and New: Keyboard Encounters, c. 1700-1900

March 9–11, 2023
Sigal Music Museum
Greenville, South Carolina, USA


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The history of keyboard instruments involves centuries of global exchange: patterns of performance, composition, manufacturing, taste-making, migration, conquest, and capital shaped by the traversal of geographic locales. In partnership with the Sigal Music Museum and its world-class collection of historical instruments, Westfield’s Spring 2023 conference will probe such dynamics as they’ve persisted between Europe and other parts of the world from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.

The richly varied program intersperses papers and lecture-recitals with performances intended to illuminate the wide range of information and experience afforded by the Museum’s harpsichords, square and grand pianos, reed organ, and “liegende Harfe” clavier. The keynote speakers are Professor Nicholas Mathew of Berkeley, examining “The Piano in the Tropics,” and instrument maker and conservator John Watson, offering “Vignettes from the Beginnings of American Keyboard Culture.”

In addition, sessions on the themes “Uniquely American,” “The Twentieth-Century Early Music Revival,” “European Music in Africa and Australia,” “European Music in Latin America,” “Domestic Music in the United States,” and “The Cosmopolitan Virtuoso in America” will investigate the many ramifications of exchange “Between Old Worlds and New.” Topics brought to the fore encompass A. P. Heinrich’s musical response to injustice, Bayard Rustin’s involvement with early music, early keyboards in Ethiopia, Australia, and Latin America, the musical repertoire of Washington’s granddaughter, the international virtuosi Gottschalk and Thalberg in America, the popularization of the harpsichord in the United States, and many others.

Prominent performers will intermingle with a new generation as the artistry of Matthew Dirst, Nicholas Mathew and Jean Bernard Cerin, Elaine Funaro, Charles Metz, Mike Cheng-Yu Lee, and Matthew Bengtson shares the spotlight with the sparkling talents of Westfield Fortepiano Academy student artists Federico Ercoli, Charlotte Tang, and Gabriel Merrill-Steskal.

Rounding out the weekend, you will enjoy a tour of the Sigal Music Museum’s “Sounds of America” exhibit, welcoming and closing receptions, a panel on the issues facing historical instrument technology, maintenance, preservation, and use, and opportunities to explore the lively and scenic downtown of Greenville, which The New York Times called “a national model for a pedestrian-friendly city center.”