Harp Guitar Working Vacation: Boston Part 2

Boston Day 3

After yesterday’s introduction to the MFA musical instrument staff and harp guitars, on Wednesday, Steve and Frank took me for a drive up through some of the nicer neighborhoods and up along the picturesque Boston coast.

We ended up in Rockport.  There’s a gorgeous little acoustic music concert hall in town – any of you played it?

One of the many abandoned granite quarries – this one in Halibut Point Park on the very tip of the peninsula

After being treated to a great fish dinner, Steve dropped me off back at the museum for the start of the AMIS activities – demonstrations of the museum’s instruments!

Local Boston harpist and AMIS member Nancy Hurrell played an exquisite Light Dital Harp…

…and an equally exquisite Egan Portable Irish harp.

Assorted harpsichord examples were played on assorted harpsichords by Sylvia Barry

The “star of the show” was curator Darcy Kuronen himself, who not only knows everything about the collection, but can play much of it!  Here, a double flageolet

An impressive bass ocarina

This must have appeared very futuristic when it debuted in 1939.  It’s the Storytone by Story and Clark, Chicago, c.1940, believed to be the first electric piano.  Each string is individually amplified (electronics created by RCA).

As it has standard strings but no soundboard, when unplugged, it sounds much like an unplugged solidbody electric guitar.  Turn it on, and it gives the illusion of some sort of upright piano.  Unless you could crank it up, I’m not exactly sure what the point would have been.

Best of all is the phonograph and radio built into the bench – it’s the all-in-one home entertainment system!

The grand finale was Darcy’s very impressive turn on the c.1830 Grand Harmonicon (musical glasses)!

I would have just a bit of time on this night and sporadically during the remainder of the week to ogle the MFA exhibits.  Though short on display space, they showcase some fantastic items:

I was in love with these finely-made but wacky violins.  You can see and identify all these instruments on the Museum’s web site.

One of my own prize museum pieces is my Cambodian crocodile zither.  The MFA’s Burmese version is a lot smaller but much more finely carved.

Some exceptional plucked strings.  The ivory-laden keyed guittar is simply astounding.  Yes, the Lacote on the upper right is a fourth harp guitar.  I didn’t want to push my luck for my hands-on demonstration proposal!

About as good as it gets. 1725 chitarra battente, 1680 Voboam and 1628 Checchucci fronts and backs…

…or is it backs and fronts…

Next: Final Boston days, including: Boston by Duck Boat, the Marlowe Sigal Collection, and a paper or two…

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