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|Matthew at the 1989 Flemish Double harpsichord|
In December 2016, Matthew Doust was in year 10 at Emanuel School and choose to spend a week in the harpsichord workshop for his first workplace learning placement. His first experience of playing a harpsichord was a chance encounter a few months earlier after a concert in Salzburg.
It was a busy time of year. The usual Monday–Friday schedule had to be bumped a day later as I was only flying in from Melbourne early Tuesday morning after the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s final subscription tour of the year. I met Matthew at City Recital Hall to tune two harpsichords and organ for the General Rehearsal of Pinchgut Opera’s “Theodora”. After enjoying the show, we were off to the ACO studio to tune their Bill Bright harpsichord for a late afternoon rehearsal after the rest of the orchestra returned from Melbourne.
Matthew plays viola as well as piano, and was thrilled that ACO cellist Julian Thompson recognized him from when Matthew had played alongside the ACO during their recent education visit to his school. At the end of our first day, Matthew got to see the inner workings of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra’s Schiedmayer celesta at the Opera Centre on Elizabeth Street.
During the rest of our week together, Matthew was able to enjoy his first harpsichord lesson with a doctoral student from the Sydney Conservatorium, and assist on some of the instruments requiring attention in the workshop including Pinchgut’s Colin Booth Italian harpsichord. Some people are able to pick up tuning quite rapidly, and I think this is much easier for orchestral string players rather than pianists who are used to finding everything already prepared on their instrument: It’s just that the harpsichord has more strings than a viola! Matthew did well.
On the Friday evening, we enjoyed some more music after moving the fortepiano to a private harbourside residence for an Australian Haydn Ensemble fundraising function.
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