St John's College

The music department commissioned a harpsichord from Mr John Reid Coulter in October 2017 and welcomed the delivery of this magnificent instrument to Clarke Auditorium on Saturday 24 October 2020.

This instrument is a single manual harpsichord (2x8’) based on the building traditions of the Hamburg School – in particular that of Carl Conrad Fleischer (1680-1737). His instruments are based on indigenous building traditions as well as a measure of Flemish and Italian influences. The proposed instrument was built using maple for the case, beech for the wrest plank, soundboard liners, bridge. nut and jacks. The soundboard was from European spruce and the keyboard of pau marfin for the natural tops and imbuia for the sharps. The stand, on which the instrument rests, is a set of trestle-type legs. The strings are historical harpsichord wire (bronze, brass and soft iron alloy). The instrument has been voiced using seagull quill and a buff-stop using leather and felt.

The keyboard is transposable: a’=395 Hz, 415 Hz and 440 Hz. Extra strings and jacks have been included in the design in order not to lose notes at the extremities in 395 Hz or 440 Hz. Therefore the range is the standard chromatic GG-d’’’ in any of the pitch transposition positions. The case decoration is made of intricate woodwork with a protective waxed finish and with painted panels on the lid and sides.

John Coulter has nicknamed the harpsichord “Goldilocks”, as she has an illuminating golden appearance from the magnificent woodwork. The painted panels on the outside and inside of the lid was done keeping the College colours in mind.

"We are looking forward to our inaugural concert with this instrument in 2021," said Dr Ben Oosthuizen, Director of Music at St John's College.