STARKVILLE, Miss.–A special gift by a Starkville physician and his medical practice is providing a French double-manual harpsichord for the music department at Mississippi State.
Dr. Chester Lott made possible the department’s acquisition of the keyboard instrument similar in appearance to a smaller grand piano but whose strings are plucked rather than struck.
Built in 1988 by Massachusetts-based Hubbard and Broekman Inc., the harpsichord is modeled on one built in France in 1769, according to university piano professor Jackie Edwards-Henry.
She leads the piano program in the music department, which is shared by the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education.
Edwards-Henry said Lott, a 1977 MSU microbiology graduate, made the donation on behalf of Starkville Clinic for Women, his professional association.
“Dr. Lott said the variety of opportunities for a small city is among the reasons he considers Starkville a wonderful place in which to live,” she said. “He recognized that the MSU music department plays an important role in that variety through its student, faculty and guest artist concerts.”
Lott, who has practiced in the city since 1990, “sees this donation as an opportunity to continue to make Starkville a great place to live for years to come,” she added.
“Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Lott and Starkville Clinic for Women, our music department now will be able to expand repertoire choices in vocal- and instrumental-applied studios and ensembles,” Edwards-Henry said. “We also now can provide harpsichord instruction as an option for our keyboard majors.
“As for public concerts, we now can invite professional early music guest artists and ensembles to perform on campus and in Starkville,” she added.
Featuring a profile more elongated than a grand piano and with a sharper curve to the bentside, the harpsichord features long bass strings on one side and short iron treble strings on the other.
Edwards-Henry said the new MSU acquisition came from the Boston-area Harpsichord Clearing House that had obtained it through a Los Angeles, Calif., estate sale.
“The quality of this Hubbard and Broekman is superb, ranking among the best instruments I have played at the University of Michigan, Indiana University and the Oberlin Conservatory, all well-established schools with highly respected early music programs,” she said.
According to the veteran MSU educator, the harpsichord was used in most of the vocal and instrumental repertoire written during the Baroque era, which began in Italy in the early 1600s and spread throughout Europe.
Plans currently are being made to have the new-to-campus instrument featured with the Starkville/MSU Symphony (and MSU Philharmonia) during the upcoming school year.
It recently was given prominence during a philharmonia concert held at the Starkville First Baptist Church.
“As the fall semester gets under way, we encourage members of the Golden Triangle area to check the “Events Calendar” icon on the music department website for dates, times and locations of these and other concerts,” Edwards-Henry said. The website address is www.music.msstate.edu.