The Virtual Vincenzo is Sound Gallery’s digital restoration project of a rare harpsichord built in Italy in 1782 by Vincenzo Sodi of Florence. The actual instrument is at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter (RAMM). The virtual instrument is at Sound Gallery Studios in Exeter.

In 1975 Decca made a vinyl recording of a collection of Scarlatti’s sonatas. These pieces were played on a harpsichord constructed by Vincenzo Sodi in 1782. The Vincenzo Sodi harpsichord is by all accounts one of the most authentic instruments surviving and very much in keeping with the instrument that Scarlatti would have been composing on.

In 2002, Grice Peters, after seeing a photograph of the instrument on a DECCA vinyl record sleeve where it was stated that the harpsichord was at the RAMM, he enquired at the museum whether he could see the actual instrument. He was informed by the then curator that the instrument was stored in the basement as it was deemed unplayable by experts following a crack on its soundboard after being exposed to heat and temperature fluctuations within the museum. Prior to that, the Vincenzo Sodi harpsichord was proudly displayed and utilised by the museum for concerts and most notably was played by Colin Tinley. At the time of the enquiry, the instrument was stored under sheets in the basement.

After acquiring permission by the Museum’s curator, Grice Peters assisted by sound engineer Paul Bateman, were able to digitally record all the working notes from the harpsichord. They then re-created the entire keyboard with the aid of the latest computer and MIDI technology. The sampled notes were then transferred to a MIDI controlled master keyboard with an aim to make it playable again in its digitised format and make it heard by the public thus providing access to this important instrument. The Virtual Vincenzo was born.

Since then, the team at Sound Gallery Studios has developed a full working keyboard which has been used in performances and recordings. The Virtual Vincenzo has also been exhibited at the Devon Schools Mix.

As a virtual instrument in its own right, the Virtual Vincenzo has received enthusiastic support from music instrument collections, curators and music museums from around the world. The actual harpsichord was displayed for the first time after 35 years when the RAMM re-opened after a refurbishment project on 15.12.2011. Sadly, the digital installation featuring the Virtual Vincenzo proposed by Sound Gallery, which aimed to make the instrument heard to the general public, was not included in the display.

Virtual Vincenzo project contributors:

Grice Peters: artistic direction, research and project management

Zac Woolhouse: Research & Advice – Paul Bateman: Sound Recording & Sampling

Maria Peters: Research – Steve Clarke: Sample Editing – Jo Gedrych: Filming & Support

Aleksis Gailans: Website Design & Server Support – Duncan Chave: Sample Library Development

John Allen: Support (RAMM) – John Maden: Support (RAMM)

Robert Porch: Research & Support – Girts Gailans: Photography

Jose Vasquez: Research notes – Michael Latcham: Research notes

In 2004, ‘New works for Lost Voices’ an audio visual performance featuring old and new works and the awoken voice of the magnificent Vincenzo Sodi harpischord, orchestrated and directed by Grice Peters and a dedicated team of musicians and technicians, took place at the Exeter Phoenix Main Auditorium.

Original concept and artistic direction: Grice Peters


Lost & Found (M.C. Peters), The Persuaders (John Barry), Slowdive I (M. C. Peters), Slowdive II (M.C Peters and T. Boxer) and my Lady Carey’s Dompe (Anonymous) were performed by Swanston: Grice Peters (guitars and vocals) – Fred Ehresmann (keys & Virtual Vincenzo) – Jon Guard (bass) & Tim Boxer (drums) accompanied by Hilary Boxer, Nancy Redman, Felicity Maries (cellos). Alan Boxer: support.

Introduction, closing notes and poems (Prose by Gabriele d’Annunzio and The Old Lute by Po Chu-i) read by Patrick Romer.

Other performers included David Cottam: Scarlatti Sonatas and Tarlton’s Resurrection Dulcinea (new commission), Richard Langham Smith: Toccatas (Frescobaldi), Tim Boxer: Time Rhapsody (T. Boxer) and Hilary Boxer: Prelude from Suite in G (J. S. Bach).

Youtube link:

Sound Gallery is organising pop up virtual installations, presentations, talks and live music events on its continued mission to showcase and celebrate the voice of this unique instrument.

If you wish to support Sound Gallery’s Virtual Vincenzo™ project or if you would like to find out more, please email us: [email protected]

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