Westport concert features harpsichord in Bach’s 18th century style

thomas-bellThe Westport Center for the Arts will commemorate Johann Sebastian Bach’s 329th birthday with a concert by a harpsichord tuned in a way that may have sounded  familiar to the composer.

It will employ the historic Werckmeister III temperament, a tuning that many scholars believe is similar to the one Bach employed in the 18th century.The temperament allows each key to produce a distinctive sound, unlike the tuning of a modern piano.

Harpsichordists Rebecca Bell and Marian Thomas will perform Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” as part of the Westport Center for the Arts’ (WCA) Brown Bag Concert Series at 12:10 p.m., Friday, March 21, at Immanuel Lutheran, 1700 Westport Road, Kansas City, Missouri.

Here’s more from the WCA:

This is the fifth performance in a series of six concerts where Bell and Thomas will  perform all of the preludes and fugues from each of the two Well-Tempered Clavier volumes.

Thomas and Bell will be performing on a French double-manual harpsichord in the style of Paul Taskin, a great builder of the 18th century. Thomas carefully constructed the harpsichord from a Frank Hubbard kit in 1983, after working in the Hubbard Workshop for a year.

Bell is the organist and music director for All Saints Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri. She is also the harpsichordist for the Kansas City Symphony and the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra.

Thomas was the music director and organist at Westport Presbyterian Church from 1998 to 2009. She is also the founder and director of the Brown Bag Concert series, now in its 20th season.

Concert admission is free, but donations are welcome. A complimentary reception will be held immediately after the concert.

Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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