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New harpsichord class at the Conservatoire of Antwerp


As from September 2016 a new harpsichord class starts at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp. After Kenneth Gilbert, Jos van Immerseel and Ewald Demeyere, Korneel Bernolet (himself a student of Ewald Demeyere) will lead this class. The ‘Antwerp school’ enjoys an international reputation because of the particular instrument collection with the Dulcken-harpsichord from 1747 as the crownjewel. Currently, this instrument resides at the Vleeshuis Museum where the instrument lessons take place. The Royal Conservatoire Antwerp is one of the few schools with an authentic instrument in his collection.

Students also have other instruments of the conservatoire at their disposal as well as instruments from the personal collection of Korneel. Excursions to go and discover other instruments is also on the program of the harpsichord student. The biggest challenge in the course is to translate historical information, techniques and experience (such as playing on a historical instrument) into a contemporary concert practice, as a soloist, chamber musician and as a continuo player. The focus in this program is therefore on an unclenched technique, a rich tone and a natural recitation of the repertoire.
Both students with former training in harpsichord, piano or organ are welcome.




Korneel Bernolet, named ‘Young Musician of the Year 2014’ by the Belgian Music Press Union, is artistic director of Apotheosis, a collective on period instruments performing chamber music and symphonical repertoire from the 18th till the 20th century. He also works as assistant conductor to Jos van Immerseel at Anima Eterna Brugge and to Christophe Rousset at Les Talens Lyriques, where he also performs as a harpsichordist and as chef-de-chant for opera productions.

As a historical keyboard player, he was a student of Paul Clement, Ewald Demeyere (MMus with greatest distinction on the original Dulcken 1747 harpsichord in Antwerp), Gustav Leonhardt and Christophe Rousset. Ever since his international debut at age 19 with La Petite Bande and Sigiswald Kuijken, he has been invited to perform with a.o. Scherzi Musicali, B’Rock, BachPlus, Il Gardellino, Transports Publics, Mannheimer Hofkapelle… As a conductor he obtained a second MMus in Antwerp and was a masterclass student of Daan Admiraal and Georg Grün. Besides his positions at Anima Eterna Brugge and Les Talens Lyriques, he worked as an assistant with B’Rock, cantoLX, choir of the Opéra National de Lorraine (Nancy), Vocalconsort Berlin and the opera production ‘Artaserse’ of the Royal Antwerp Conservatoire.

Concert productions lead him to venues and festivals throughout Europe, Macedonia, Mexico and South-Korea. His solo CD recordings with work by Balbastre and Rameau receive international acclaim. Besides his other activities as a recording engineer, he is professor of harpsichord, basso continuo, practical harmony, baroque coaching and research at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, the International Opera Academy of Ghent and the Music Academy of Aalst. He currently pursues the degree of Doctor of Arts around keyboard arpeggios in the 18th century.
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Joannes Daniel Dulcken (1706-1757) was the most important 18th-century Antwerp harpsichord builder, successfully continuing the rich tradition of the Ruckers-Couchet family. Throughout the world only five single manual harpsichords and five double manual harpsichords by Dulcken have survived. Only a few of these are still playable. The instrument in the Museum Vleeshuis I Sound of the City was purchased by Jean-Auguste Stellfeld (1881-1952) in 1923. Stellfeld was a passionate music lover and a collector of historical music instruments who encouraged the use of these instruments. In 1941 the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp acquired the Dulcken harpsichord. Since 1967 it is on display at the Museum Vleeshuis I Sound of the City. There it played an important role in the rediscovery of historically informed performance practices. Among others, harpsichordists Jos van Immerseel, Gustav Leonhardt and Kenneth Gilbert performed on the Dulcken harpsichord.
The instrument has a powerful and wonderfully rich and warm sound. This is most likely the result of its construction: the instrument has a frame inside the case, which does not touch the exterior bentside.
One of the pupils of Joannes Daniel Dulcken was Joannes Petrus Bull. One the few surviving instruments he created is also part of the collection of the Museum Vleeshuis.



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