Ancient Sounds Meet Modern Minds

Aria Allegretto. Vornehme Dame am Cembalo. Öl auf Leinwand.
SOMArts 934 Brannan St
San Francisco CA 94103
Early Bird $25 | Regular $30
Students $18 at the door (if seats still available)

What happens when you pair an ancient instrument with thoroughly modern San Francisco creatives? Come and find out as we present three new works for the harpsichord written by Bay Area composers alongside one of the 20th century’s masterpieces.


  • Nick Benavides (new work): The Color Festivals
  • Benjamin Sabey (new work): Fera Machina
  • Danny Clay: La Folia
  • Manuel de Falla: Harpsichord Concerto

For centuries, the sound of harpsichord rang in castles and concert halls—the go-to keyboard instrument whenever a church organ was not available. But all that changed in the late 18th century as the piano came into its own, dominating the keyboard repertoire from Mozart to Duke Ellington.  It was not until the mid-20th century that composers began experimenting anew with the delicate twang of the harpsichord.

“Ancient Sounds Meet Modern Minds” will introduce you to this harpsichord rebirth. Historical keyboardist Derek Tam will be our harpsichord soloist for the evening. In addition to his performance, Mr. Tam will lead a pre-concert lecture on the history and evolution of the harpsichord.

The evening will feature harpsichord-infused works by three dedicated Bay Area composers: Nick Benavides, Benjamin Sabey, and Danny Clay, followed by a performance of Manuel de Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto. De Falla’s Concerto was arguably the most important harpsichord pieces of the 20th century, helping to place the instrument back into the spotlight. We’re extremely pleased to be able to present one of these landmark pieces for you along with three fresh, exciting takes on this medieval sound source.