The First Harpsichord In Nicaragua
In the picture above, you’ll find three musical instruments—a violoncello, a double bass, and a harpsichord—all necessary for interpreting music of the Baroque Era. It was taken at the Rubén Darío National Theater in Managua during a rehearsal break of the Nicaraguan chamber ensemble Camerata Bach (Ramón Rodríguez, dir.).
Throughout many parts of the world the three instruments pictured are commonplace and audiences rarely think twice about their presence on stage. In Nicaragua, that’s certainly true for the violoncello and double bass, but not for the harpsichord.
In the nearly forty-year history of the national theater, the country’s principal cultural institution, the harpsichord has never* been heard in a performance, which makes my debut appearance with the Camerata on November 23, 2011, a “first” for the instrument in Nicaragua.
I must add, however, that credit is due to a number of organizations for making such an experience possible.
Thanks to a Fulbright scholarship, I am able to reside for an extended period and do groundwork research in Nicaragua on Spanish colonial music, as well as on music of 20th-century Nicaraguan composers.
The harpsichord** was generously loaned and underwritten by Thomas Gerber and the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra Board of Directors. It cannot be stated enough that their extraordinary gesture receives my deepest gratitude.
In the coming months I will continue to perform with the Camerata Bach.
The US Embassy in Managua will be organizing a number of recitals (solo and chamber), demonstrations, and lectures designed to promote cultural exchange and understanding, which will be presented throughout the country.
I hope to make an impact.
* I use the word “never” because of the many people (musicians and aficionados who have been coming to the theater for decades) whom I’ve spoken with, all confirm they’ve never seen one in performance. I’ve yet to double-check their observations against the theater’s collection of concert programs.
** Built in 1999 by Paul E. Kennedy (Danville, Indiana), who based it after Italian originals. He also painted the inside of the lid, a traditional pastoral scene.