The Piccola Accademia in London

Unlocking the Secrets of the Harpsichord

November 20th, 2007 – St George’s Church, Hanover Square, London W1

Following the very pleasing success of our Montisi Festival this summer and our very well-attended harpsichord and ensemble master classes, we are preparing to bring a slice of Montisi to London on Tuesday, November 20th at 7.30pm.  As a part of the London Bach Society ‘Bachfest’, our programme will include FOUR HARPSICHORDS and FOUR HARPSICHORDISTS (students from the summer master classes, hailing from Poland, Finland, Russia and Israel – including two Bruges prize winners and a Bach Leipzig prize winner).

The programme, entitled ‘Bach’s Skeleton Key: Unlocking the Mysteries of Harpsichords’, will be led and narrated by harpsichordist/conductor LAURENCE CUMMINGS, who, along with historic strings and music journalist WARWICK THOMPSON, will take us on an entertaining journey around Europe with the harpsichord, highlighting differences in national style and influences, with a special emphasis on JS BACH.

The programme will include:

  • 1st movement Concerto in C major for two harpsichords, JS Bach – Tamar Halperin, Laurence Cummings
  • Prelude non mesure in A minor, Louis Couperin – Matias Häkkinen
  • The Hunt, John Bull – Maria Uspenskaya
  • Toccata Quarta from il primo libro, Frescobaldi – Tamar Halperin
  • Allemande for 2 clavecins from 9th ordre, Francois Couperin – Marcin Swiatkiewicz, Matias Hakkinen
  • Sonata in E minor,  D.Scarlatti – Maria Uspenskaya
  • Air and variations (Harmonious Blacksmith), G.F. Handel – Marcin Swiatkiewicz

INTERVAL (20 minutes)

  • 1  Brandenburg Concerto No.5, J.S.Bach – Maria Uspenskaya

Narration and direction – Laurence Cummings
Commentary and script – Warwick Thompson
Strings from the Serafin Camerata Orchestra, London


Tickets are £12 and £18 (£5 for students) available through the London Bach Society ticket line on +44 (0) 1883 717372 (see



Laurence Cummings, Conductor

Laurence Cummings is one of Britain’s most exciting and versatile young exponents of historical performance both as harpsichord player and conductor. He was an organ scholar at Christ Church Oxford where he graduated with first class honours. In 1996 he was appointed Head of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music which has led to both baroque and classical orchestras forming part of the established curriculum. He is also Musical Director of the Tilford Bach Society and a trustee of Handel House London. Since 1999 he has been Music Director of the London Handel Festival where performances have included productions of Deborah, Athalia, Esther, Agrippina, Sorsame, Alexander Balus, Hercules, Samson, Ezio, Riccardo Primo and Tolomeo.

Opera productions include Semele and Orfeo for English National Opera, Giulio Cesare for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Ariodante and Tolomeo for English Touring Opera, Rodelinda for Opera Theatre Company in the UK, Ireland and New York, Alceste at the Linbury Theatre Covent Garden as part of the London Bach Festival, Time Flows (based on music by Handel and Hendrix) for Streetwise Opera, Caverlieri’s Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo, Eccle’s The Judgement of Paris and King Arthur in Croatia, Francisco António de Almeida’s La Spinalba and La Guiditta at the Casa da Musica in Porto and L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Dardanus at the Royal Academy of Music. He recently made his US debut conducting Orfeo with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston.

As a continuo player he has worked regularly with Les Arts Florissants, The Sixteen, The Gabrieli Consort, and The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and conductors William Christie, Paul McCreesh and Harry Christophers. He has collaborated with Stage Directors Graham Vick, Peter Sellars, Annabelle Arden, James Conway and Robert Carsen

His orchestral engagements include concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Royal Academy of Music Baroque Orchestra (B minor Mass at the London Bach Festival) and Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers at the Spitalfields Festival.

His numerous recordings include the first recording of Handel’s newly discovered Gloria with Emma Kirkby and the Royal Academy of Music on BIS and recital discs of solo harpsichord music (including music by Louis and Francois Couperin) for Naxos. He has recently completed a solo disc of Handel arias with Angelika Kirschlager for BIS.

Future plans include performances of L’Incoronazione di Poppea for English National Opera, Vivaldi L’Incoronazione di Dario for Garsington Opera and Giulio Cesare for Gothenburg Opera. He gives concerts at the Casa da Musica, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Lincoln Center New York and with the English Concert.


Warwick Thompson

Warwick Thompson read English Literature at Oxford University, then moved to Rome to teach. A keen musician, on his return to London he established himself as a theatrical music director, and also began to write opera criticism, liner notes and music features. He is now the opera critic for Metro newspaper, writes on opera and theatre for, and regularly contributes to Opera, The Times, and Classic FM Magazine. A former Radio 3 announcer, He current ly serves on the jury for the Royal Philharmonic Society awards, and the Classical Brit awards.



Marcin Swiatkiewicz

Marcin Swiatkiewicz began his musical education at the age of 5 when he started to learn piano in children’s music school in Ruda Slaska, Poland . At the age of 18 he began his study on the harpsichord privately with Marek Toporowski and later as a student of Karol Szymanowski at the Academy of Music in Katowice. At the Academy, Marcin also studies composition and music theory with Wieslaw Cienciala. Since 2005 he has been studying harpsichord with Jacques Ogg at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Marcin has participated in many master classes in Europe and Canada including those tought by Menno van Delft, W?adysaw K?osiewicz, Robert Hill, Luca Guglielmi, Chrisophe Rousset, Peter van Heyghen and Andreas Spering. As a soloist and basso continuo player Marcin has played concerts in Poland, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and USA. Marcin performce frequently with early music ensemle Haagsche Hofmuzieck.

He collaborates also with a chamber group of the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Aukso Orchestra and Parnassos Early Music Ensemble. Recordings of Marcin’s compositions may be found on CD of the Composition Department at the Academy of Music in Katowice and on the musical soundtrack of the short movie “Siciliano” by Pawe Dyllus. (from



Tamar Halperin

Tamar Halperin is a doctoral candidate at the Juilliard School, New York. She performs extensively as a soloist and as a chamber musician, both on the piano and the harpsichord, repertoire that ranges from the early Baroque to the most recent contemporary music. She won the Eisen-Picard Performing Arts Award (2006-7); the Presser Doctoral Award (2005); the REC Music award (2005); an honorary prize at the International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges (2004), and was the recipient of the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship; Ms. Halperin holds a Bachelor’s degree with high distinction from Tel-Aviv University, and a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School in New York, where she also worked as a teaching assistant.

Currently, Ms. Halperin is in the process of deepening her knowledge and facility of Renaissance and Baroque musical practices through an intense study at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland.



Matias Häkkinen

Matias Häkkinen (b.1981 in Helsinki, Finland) studies the harpsichord at Sibelius-Academy in Helsinki with Anssi Mattila and Annamari Pölhö. In 2004 He studied in Escola Superior da Música e das Artes de Espectáculo, in Oporto, Portugal with prof. Ana Mafalda Castro among others. He also has a bachelor degree in the piano.

Häkkinen has taken part in master courses of Menno van Delft, Ton Koopman, Andrew Lawrence-King, Dmitry Paperno, Haavard Gimse and Lauri Väinmaa among several other Finnish and foreign teachers both in Finland and abroad.

He has given recitals with both the harpsichord and the piano as well as a lied-pianist, chamber musician and accompanist with several singers, instrumentalists, ensembles and orchestras all around Finland and also in Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Italy and Estonia. In May 2007 his ensemble won the first prize in international Dietrich Buxtehude-competition in Tallinn.



Maria Uspenskaya

Maria Uspenskaya is one of the brightest Russian Clavier players of the younger generation. She was born in Moscow in 1982 and began her music studies at the age of 7. She finished the Gnessin Special School of Music with distinction in the year 2000, continuing at the Moscow Chaikovsky Conservatory from where she graduated in 2006. Her piano teachers were Irina Renova, Vladimir Ovchinnikov and Alexei Lubimov, her harpsichord and fortepiano teacher was Olga Martynova. Now she is a postgraduate student.

She was a prize-winner three times at international piano competitions and had some concert tours in Germany and South Korea. In 2003-4 she had a scholarship for one year to study at the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatory with Bob van Asperen and Stanley Hoogland. She took masterclasses with A. Staier, D. Moronie, C. Stembridge, B. van Oort, A. Schoonderwoerd and P. Donohou, and in 2004-5 studied the organ with Alexei Parishin. She took part in many international festivals, among them Utrecht and Sopron (as a piano duet with Alexey Shevchenko), and St. Petersburg (with baroque violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky).

Her reperoite includes works of many different styles from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. In the summer of 2004 she won prizes at both the harpsichord and the piano divisions of the International “Musica Antiqua” Competition in Bruges, Belgium.