SOLD OUT!! Joe Gascho and Don Winkler - A Pairing of Harpsichord Compositions and Fine Wines: Explorations in Synesthesia

Joe Gascho & Don Winkler
Joseph Gascho, Harpsichordist & Don Winkler, Wine Reviewer
Saturday, November 28, 2015 - 6:00pm
3131 Aberfoyle Pl., NW, Washington DC 20015
Program Details: 

A Pairing of Harpsichord Music & Fine Wine: Explorations in Synesthesia

We invite music- &  wine-lovers to enjoy a serious, yet light-hearted, exploration of the sensory experiences evoked by "paired" harpsichord music & wine.  Harpsichordist Joseph Gascho & international wine reviewer, Don Winkler, will guide the audience in exploring how the beautiful sounds of a harpsichord composition & the flavors of a specific wine can meld & stimulate a wonderful multi-sensory experience.

Definition: Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g. hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g. vision).  People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.

Multi-sensory experiences are common to all of us; a sound, taste or vision often involuntarily prompts a secondary sensory experience.  For most of us, these are rather loose sensory experiences, where a certain piece of music, for instance, might sound “as if” the wind is rustling through trees.  We recognize these experiences but tend not to give undue attention to them. However, for a small percentage of people – the 5% or so who are true synesthetes – these multisensory experiences are constant, consistent, and intense. 

Sound-color synesthesia is more common than other sensory associations. Many musicians, including Alexander Scriabin, Olivier Messiaen, Amy Beach, and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, associated musical keys with specific colors. There are some reports that Franz Liszt also experienced sound-color synesthesia.  Scriabin felt that each note in an octave could be associated with a particular color, and in Prometheus, the Poem of Fire, he wrote the music and noted the colors associated with the notes.

 Numerous painters also experience color-music sensations; Paul Klee produced many “polyphonic paintings”.  David Hockney perceives music as colors and draws on this in preparing opera backdrops. 

Music-taste synesthesia is rather less common, although some musicians report that specific musical intervals generate consistent taste sensations.  A well-known American sommelier reports experiencing taste-color synesthesia; he “sees” wines as colors when tasting them.  He reports that a white wine like Nosiola has a “beautiful aquamarine, flowy, kind of wavy color to it”. 

Join Aberfoyle Baroque for a unique and enticing evening in which a music and a wine specialist guide the audience in assessing the sensory experiences evoked by a "pairing" of certain harpsichord compositions and fine wines.  Joseph Gascho and Don Winkler will have worked together to "pair" the music and wine and will discuss their pairing decisions at the Soirée.  Explore the depths of your music-wine synesthesia!


Joseph Gascho
Joe Gascho

Conductor and harpsichordist Joseph Gascho enjoys a multifaceted musical career as a solo and collaborative keyboardist, conductor, teacher and recording producer, and recently joined the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.  As a student of Webb Wiggins and Arthur Haas, he earned masters and doctoral degrees in harpsichord from the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Maryland, where he also studied orchestral conducting with James Ross.  In 2002, he won first prize in the Jurow International Harpsichord Competition.  At the Oberlin Conservatory's Baroque Performance Institute, he conducts the student orchestra, coaches chamber music, and teaches basso continuo.  He has performed and coached chamber music, and coordinated accompanying at the Amherst Early Music Festival, and has taught at the International Baroque Institute at Longy and at George Washington University.  Recent performing highlights include performances with the National Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra, and also conducting Idomeneo for the Maryland Opera Studio.  He has conducted numerous operas from Monteverdi to Mozart for Opera Vivente.  A strong proponent of technology in the arts, he has used computer-assisted techniques in opera productions, in recent recordings, and in his basso continuo classes.  His recent debut solo recording was praised by American Record Guide for "bristling with sparkling articulation, subtle but highly effective rubato and other kinds of musical timing, and an enviable understanding of the various national styles of 17th and 18th Century harpsichord music".

Don Winkler
Don Winkler International Wine Review Aberfoyle Baroque

Donald Winkler is co-publisher and editor of the International Wine Review (http:\\ Over the past two decades he has traveled to most of the world’s important wine regions in North America, Europe, South Africa, the Antipodes, and South America and has written extensively about the terroir, vineyards, winemaking and wines of those regions.  With his business partner he has written over fifty in-depth technical reports and hundreds of articles on wine-growing regions and producers around the globe.  He has also served as judge for the final round of Virginia’s Governor’s Cup. Trained as an economist, he has a special interest in wine markets. Prior to dedicating himself full-time to wine writing, he taught economics at the University of California and University of Southern California and did international development work for the World Bank.  He lives most of the year in Washington, DC, but also spends time at his Cape Town residence, conveniently located near the vineyards of Constantia.