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Listen to internationally recognized performers as they bring to life the sounds of the 18th century as once performed for the Washington's and their guests. Music selections are drawn from Nelly Custis' favorites and popular music of the time. Nelly's reproduction harpsichord is highlighted with its versatility and unique range along with various period instruments.Buy Tickets

Dates and Time


Friday, Aug. 2: $35; Saturday, Aug. 3: $45;


Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium

A musical revolution took place in the late eighteenth century, in which Mount Vernon played a little known, but remarkable role. As pianos were becoming the domestic keyboard instrument of choice, George Washington purchased a large, state-of-the-art harpsichord.

Surprisingly, the instrument arrived years after he traded in Martha’s old spinet for a newly popular piano-forte, which arrived in time for young Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis to begin piano lessons with the celebrated composer Alexander Reinagle. Experience Nelly's new harpsichord during this exclusive concert series.

Harpsichord Concert Nights

Friday Night Concert

Friday, August 2 - 6:15pm

In Friday night's concert Joyce Lindorff will perform a collection of keyboard music drawn from Nelly Custis's favorites--music that was most often performed for George Washington and his guests at Mount Vernon. Many of these pieces show off the extraordinary features of the elaborate harpsichord given to Nelly by George Washington in 1793.

We can now experience the same spectacular sound heard by Washington family and their guests, thanks to the brand new reproduction by John Watson, emeritus curator and conservator of musical instruments at Colonial Williamsburg. Lindorff will also perform on the newly restored Dodds & Claus square piano, just as both keyboard instruments were enjoyed by the Washington household in the 1790s.

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Saturday Night Concert

Saturday, August 3 - 7:30pm

Saturday night's concert will feature the eminent singer Julianne Baird in a program of popular vocal and chamber music from Nelly Custis's world. Together with Joyce Lindorff performing on both reproduction harpsichord and Dodds & Claus piano, and Shelby Yamin, violin, a musical entertainment will be presented just as it might have taken place after a fine dinner at Mount Vernon.

Nelly Custis's favorites will be heard, including Scottish songs set by Haydn, favorites from fashionable operas, and works composed by Nelly Custis's own Italian music master. 

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Harpsichord Symposium

Friday, August 2 & Saturday, August 3

Cost: $250

Dive into the world of harpsichords and their impact on 18th century music with an international roster of performers and historians as they explore and revive the music of Mount Vernon, and particularly its fascinating keyboard instruments.

Learn how harpsichords evolved with new expressive qualities designed to serve the changing music of the time and experience why a full-featured harpsichord deserved its place at Mount Vernon.

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Julianne Baird

Performing: Saturday, August 3

Julianne Baird, soprano, with over 130 solo CD’s to her credit, is one of the world’s most recorded sopranos. She is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and maintains a busy concert and recording schedule. Her book, Introduction to the Art of Singing (Cambridge University Press), is used by singers and professional schools internationally. In popular demand as a visiting artist she conducts Master Classes at Yale, Oberlin Conservatory, Juilliard, and Stony Brook.  The New York Times hailed her as a “national artistic treasure,” a “well-nigh peerless performer in the repertory of the baroque,” and praised her musicianship that “engenders singing of extreme expressive beauty.”

Joyce Lindorff

Performing: Friday, August 2 & Saturday, August 3

As a 2018-19 Research Fellow at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Joyce Lindorff has been researching music from the archives and performing Nelly Custis’s repertoire on the reproduction instrument. She has concertized widely in the US, Europe, Russia, and Asia. Her playing has garnered awards from the Pro Musicis Foundation (France) and National Endowment for the Arts (US), and praise from The New York Times as “brilliant music, brilliantly played,” and “one of the most appealing recitals of the season.” Her recordings can be heard on the Titanic, Centaur, CRI, Serenus, Digitech, BCM&D, Affetto and Paladino labels. Lindorff is Professor of Keyboard Studies at Temple University.

Shelby Yamin

Performing: Saturday, August 3

Originally from New York, historical violin virtuoso Shelby Yamin holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Manhattan School of Music, an Artist Diploma from the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, and both Master’s degree and Professional Studies certificate in Baroque violin from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

As a soloist, Shelby has performed most recently at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, and served as concertmaster and soloist at both the Oregon Bach Festival’s Berwick Academy and Tafelmusik’s Winter Institute in Toronto. Her  piano trio, Capitoline, was awarded first prizes at the Virtuoso e Bel Canto chamber music competition and the Barbara Fritz Competition.Shelby is the recipient of a grant from the Juilliard School to record composer Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen’s Opus 5 violin duets, with a release scheduled for 2020. She is a member of the Monterey and Santa Barbara Symphonies and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Historical Performance at The Juilliard School.

Nelly’s New Harpsichord

This replica of the original instrument belonging to Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis was recently completed after two years of intensive work by John Watson.

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