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Carey Beebe at the old harpsichord in Singapore 19K jpegMr Harpsichord and his magic touch

Depending on the time of year, you can spot Carey Beebe (below) hunched over a harpsichord either at the Sydney Opera House, at a music studio in Hong Kong or in a Singapore home. Depending on the day, he could be either hobnobbing with conductor Trevor Pinnock or chatting with a young music student about early music.

What does Beebe do? He is Australasia’s only travelling harpsichord maker. This Sydneysider constructs, restores, maintains, tunes and hires out early keyboard instruments.

And if your harpsichord is unhappy with the humidity of the tropics, he is probably the only guy willing to make a flying visit to look at your instrument and fix the problem.

One satisfied customer is Professor Geoffrey Benjamin in Singapore, who owns an antique French harpsichord. This beauty from the French Revolution did not survive the rebuilding of two well-known makers from England and Germany. The animal glues in the harpsichord attracted moisture and the wood swelled in the humidity. Parts cracked, the mechanism became immovable and finally the instrument was unplayable.

Since Beebe restored it in 1994, this harpsichord is acknowledged as the best in Singapore. International musicians such as the American Bach Soloists (ABS) perform on it when they visit. Says ABS conductor and harpsichordist Jeffrey Thomas: “I loved it. It’s an excellent instrument.”

Article by Tan Li-Anne
Esplanade the Arts Magazine (Singapore), January & February 1997

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