A champion of contemporary harpsichord

Mark Kroll

Mark Kroll

‘The harpsichord can be as expressive as singing and as beautiful as any other instrument, including the piano,” claims prominent harpsichordist Mark Kroll, speaking by phone from his Boston home on the eve of his long awaited Israeli debut.

During his 10-day stay here, which begins May 1, Kroll will perform a concert at Tel Aviv’s Felicja Blumental Music Center in Tel Aviv (May 3), present lectures/concerts at the Hebrew and Bar-Ilan universities (May 8), at the Emek Yizrael Art Center (May 2) and at the Open University (May 3), as well as conduct master classes on the Baroque instrument that was father to the piano.

During a career spanning more than three decades, Kroll has performed on four continents, winning critical praise for his expressive playing and virtuosity. A sought-after teacher and lecturer, he served for 25 years as Professor and Chair of the Department of Historical Performance at Boston University and still gives courses and master classes worldwide. He has also written on a wide range of subjects, from 17th-century performance practice to contemporary music, as well as pointers on expressive harpsichord playing, based on his lectures. He is also a founder of the Boston Early Music Festival and a conductor who appears with various orchestras and ensembles.

“I tell people that Bach, Rameau, Handel and Scarlatti wrote their gorgeous music for the harpsichord. They would never would have wrote it if it couldn’t be done. Many people play harpsichord historically – I’m not interested in that kind of music,” says Kroll.

Kroll is also a champion of contemporary music for harpsichord. The harpsichord was the king of instruments for about 300 years before its eclipse by the piano. In the second half of the 20th century, the harpsichord experienced a revival.

“If we don’t make the harpsichord an active part of the musical scene, it will die again,” says Mark Kroll, who has commissioned and premiered many new works and performed much of the contemporary repertoire.

“I think it is the harpsichord’s characteristic clarity and special color which attract many contemporary composers to it,” explains Kroll. “But only good harpsichord composers, aware of the instrument’s limitation, write playable harpsichord pieces. The good composers of the 20th century have pushed the instrument to places, that if Bach or Scarlatti would hear it, would probably say – well, that’s pretty good!”

At Felicja Blumental Music Center, Mark Kroll and his former student Marina Minkin – “the best musician who has ever emerged from my studio” – will perform pieces for one and two harpsichords by Francois Couperin, Domenico Scarlatti, Johann Sebastian Bach, as well give local premieres of pieces of our contemporaries Lou Harrison and Vittorio Rieti.

Kroll, an extremely busy person, says that his Jewish identity means a lot to him and that he is moved to be visiting Israel for the first time.

Maxim Reider, THE JERUSALEM POST Apr. 26, 2007

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