Baroque Ornamentation for Pianists: Learning from the Harpsichord

Leon Schelhase
Instructor's Name: 
Leon Schelhase
Saturday, March 12, 2016 - 10:00am to 1:30pm
Aberfoyle Pl. NW., Washington DC 20015
About Master Class: 

Master Class - Baroque Ornamentation for Pianists: Learning from the Harpsichord

Leon Schelhase, a member of the harpsichord faculty at the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, will lead this Master Class on Baroque ornamentation and its use in keyboard music. 

C.P.E. Bach wrote in his Art of Keyboard Playing (1753):  It is not likely that anybody could question the necessity of ornaments. They are found everywhere in music, and are not only useful, but indispensable. They connect the notes; they give them life. They emphasize them, and besides giving accent and meaning they render them graceful; they illustrate the sentiments, be they sad or merry, and take an important part in the general effect….”

This Master Class for pianists will provide participants with the opportunity to consider the purposes and correct execution of Baroque keyboard ornaments, with demonstrations and discussion at both the piano and the harpsichord.  The Class will be followed by a complimentary light lunch.


About the Instructor: 

A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Leon Schelhase found himself resonating with Baroque music from an early age. His musical studies brought him to the harpsichord early on, and subsequently landed him in the United States where he has rapidly become sought after as both soloist and continuo performer.

A recipient of the American Bach Soloists’ prestigious Goldberg Prize, Leon’s solo performances have been praised as “exquisite” and filled with “virtuosity” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, and his continuo playing described as revealingclean and clear lines… always distinct within the surrounding textures.” Having lived and studied in Boston, Leon has had the privileged of performing with Emmanuel Music, Ensemble Florilege, and the Gardener Museum Orchestra. His involvement with conductor-less string band A Far Cry, described by the Montpelier Times Argus as “matching [the soloists’] tasteful ornamenting with unusual sensitivity,” culminated in an appearance as guest artist on their first CD “Debut”. But Leon’s most notable musical collaboration in Boston has been with Cambridge Concentus, an ensemble specializing in the music of Bach, and of which he is a founding member.  In 2009, famed conductor Joshua Rifkin directed the ensemble in an epoch-making performance of JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion on tour in Japan.

Leon holds a BMus (Hons) from the University of Cape Town, and a Master’s Degree in Historical Performance from Boston University where he was a student of Peter Sykes. He currently resides in Philadelphia where his local and broader involvement in early music is evident with performances with his chamber ensemble, Old City Music, La Rocinante (Colombia), Ars Antiqua, the Philadelphia Bach Festival Orchestra and New York State Baroque, Pegasus Early Music (Rochester, NY) and continuo accompanist fellow at the Baroque Performance Institute, Oberlin, OH.  He appeared as guest soloist with the American Bach Soloists, CA and served as Assistant Conductor in Handel’s TESEO at the Chicago Opera Theater. Leon joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2012 and is anticipating the release of his new album of solo harpsichord music titled ‘PHANTASTICUS’ in 2015.


Aberfoyle Baroque welcomes and actively encourages intermediate- and advanced-level pianists and piano instructors to join this Master Class.  Our Master Classes aim is to provide a high quality learning experiences for a range of ability-levels.

  • 10:00-10:10am     Welcome & Introductions
  • 10:10-10:15am     Opening Performance by Instructor
  • 10:15-10:30am     Short presentation on topic with supporting illustrations on Harpsichord & Piano
  • 10:30-11:00pm     Student Performer A
  • 11:00-11:15am     Q&A
  • 11:15-11:30am     Tea/Coffee
  • 11:30-12:00pm     Student Performer B
  • 12:00-12:15pm     Q&A
  • 12:15-12:45pm     Student Performer C
  • 12:45-1:00pm        Q&A
  • 1:00-1:10pm          Closing Performance by Instructor 
  • 1:10-1:30pm          Complimentary Light Lunch

The fees for participating in the Master Class are as follows:  

  • Auditors (maximum of 20):  $50
  • Student Performers (maximum of 3): $65
Master Class
The instruments will include a Steinway Model “B” & a French double manual harpsichord by William Dowd
Additional Information: 
Note: The Master Class will be held at 3137 Aberfoyle Pl. NW, Washington DC 20015
Aberfoyle Baroque reserves the right to take photos, videos & sound recordings of this event and to post them on its social media. Aberfoyle Baroque does not share participants’ contact information with other entities.
Leon Schelhase plays Handel's Suite for Harpsichord, No. 2, F Major (Allegro)