Metz performs concert with rare instrument March 22

Pianist and harpsichordist Charles Metz, Ph.D., will perform an intimate program on the virginal for the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 22, as part of its spring 2009 concert series.

Titled “Virginal, Viols, and Voice,” the concert will feature a program of 16th-century English and 17th-century Italian music. It will be presented in the Ballroom Theater at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave. The concert is free and open to the public.

The program also will highlight soprano Emily Heslop in a selection of consort songs by William Byrd, a leading composer of the Elizabethan Age.

Heslop will be accompanied by the Washington University Consort of Viols under the direction of Elizabeth Macdonald, director of strings in the music department.

A smaller, rectangular version of the harpsichord, the virginal can be attributed to the Florentine instrument-maker Francesco Poggi and dated c. 1590, said Hugh Macdonald, Ph.D., the Avis H. Blewett Professor of Music, head of musicology and acting chair of the Department of Music.

Unlike the harpsichord, however, the virginal was made with strings that ran parallel to the keyboard and that produced a flute-like sound when plucked. Because most of the models did not have legs, they were often placed on tables for playing.

“More than 400 years after it was built, this instrument surfaced in O’Fallon, Ill., where it was identified and purchased by Metz, who has had it carefully and beautifully restored,” Hugh Macdonald said. “There are 18 known instruments in the world by the same maker, all in museums except for three, of which this is one.”

Metz studied piano at Penn State University and harpsichord with Igor Kipnis and Trevor Pinnock. He frequently performs with the Bach Society of Saint Louis, the Masterworks Chorale and Collegium Vocale and has performed in the Netherlands, Germany and Costa Rica. He earned a doctorate in historical performance practice from WUSTL.

Metz also serves as president of the Friends of Music, which supports the Department of Music’s high standards in performance, musical studies and research while encouraging WUSTL students and faculty in their musical scholarship and creativity.

For more information, call 935-5566 or e-mail