From the Renaissance to the Baroque and beyond, the harpsichord has played an important role in the history of music.
In June, a retired Salem area music professor donated a hand-crafted harpsichord to Corban University. The instrument will be used to fill a musical void that was previously filled with a harpsichord borrowed from Salem First Baptist Church as needed.
“It’s always been a private instrument and not played publicly,” said Myra Brand, D.M.A., who also served as an adjunct music professor many years ago. “I knew that Corban needed a harpsichord and that it would be used to glorify God.”
It was built by her husband, Malcolm, and was the first of two he built during the 1970s. It took more than a year to build each harpsichord, she noted. The instrument works when keys are depressed, which causes two chords to be plucked by a quill. The resulting sound is familiar in pre-18th century compositions.
The harpsichord will be used during the annual Christmas concert at Corban in December and at other music performances. Associate Professor of Music John Bartsch had spoken with Brand about the possibility of donating the instrument, and was excited when she agreed.
“I am so please we were able to receive this beautiful instrument,” he said. “It really is an immeasurable blessing for our students and the program.”
For Brand, the donation is more than just the addition of a new instrument for period musical performances, but also a connection to the past.
“One thing that excites me is that most Corban students likely have not even seen one, let alone had the opportunity to play it,” Brand said. “This really is an example of history that you can see and hear and feel and experience.”