The home of Anna Nathan provided the perfect setting for the inaugural concert featuring the School of Music’s new clavichord in late March 2014.
The clavichord is known as an intimate instrument — relatively quiet but very expressive. The celebration too was intimate, attended by music lovers and friends invited by Anna, whose generosity is behind the School’s newest arrival.
The commissioning of the clavichord came about when Anna expressed interest in helping build up the University’s early music instrument collection to Associate Professor Allan Badley (Head of the School of Music). Allan “happened to know of a very good man in Germany who makes fantastic instruments”.
The instrument was built in north Germany by Dietrich Hein, one of Europe’s finest clavichord builders, and tested by Professor Harald Vogel, “arguably the finest proponent of North German early keyboard music”. It was then shipped to Auckland, where its arrival had been eagerly anticipated for 18 months.
“This new instrument feeds into the School of Music’s exceptional strength in eighteenthcentury studies and performance practice,” said Allan. As well as being of critical importance to students specialising in early keyboards, it will be central to the study of all piano students, who undertake a minimum of two semesters’ study in early keyboards.
“Anna is responsible for the creation of one work of art that will in turn serve to realise other works of art, a beautiful symmetry that is quintessentially eighteenth-century in spirit.”
Senior Lecturer in Early Music and Head of the Early Music Department James Tibbles was credited by Allan for his vision in developing the early keyboard collection at the University and his role in commissioning this particularinstrument. “James has argued for many years about the profound difference having a clavichord will make to the teaching of both historic keyboard instruments and piano. Indeed, it potentially offers students throughout New Zealand a wonderful opportunity to extend their musical understanding of major repertory.”
One of New Zealand’s leading players of historic keyboards, James has an active performing and recording career both here and overseas, and an impressive discography. He is also Artistic Director of the early music organisation Age of Discovery. The programme at the celebration was both moving and sometimes playful. James was joined for several pieces by baroque flautist Sally Tibbles, also acknowledged as one of the key figures in New Zealand’s early music scene.
Anna regularly attends University events, including the annual Graduation Gala Concert, at which top School of Music students compete at the Auckland Town Hall, always to a full house. “I’m rather hoping that a young organist who has studied the clavichord will be amongst the finalists one year,” she said.