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Movers, shakers and harpsichord makers

Meet a Toronto couple with an unwavering passion for harpsichords.

Dan and Dawn

Den Ciul and Dawn Lyons of Claviers Baroque. Image © Art Gallery of Ontario

Meet Den Ciul and Dawn Lyons. Together, this Toronto pair make Claviers Baroques and proclaim themselves “the only harpsichord-building family since the Ruckers”.

Den fell for harpsichords in 1967, when he encountered a revered Italian instrument belonging to William Carrigan in Troy, New York. Eventually, he would invite Dawn, his long-lost love, to join him in the harpsichord business. The two of them are the go-to harpsichord experts in Toronto: they build, sell, service, repair, rent, restore, tune and transport these Baroque instruments for clients around the world.

Den and Dawn’s studio produced the two harpsichords that are played during our Early Rubens in-gallery performances. One of the harpsichords is a French Double Harpsichord, affectionately referred to as “Mugette”. She is quite the celebrity, having appeared with the Canadian Opera Company, the Baroque musical ensemble Les Arts Florissants, French-Canadian chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy, in recitals by Emma Kirkby and Kathleen Battle and on stage with Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire at the 2011 Juno Awards. It was also played in the inaugural AGO Live special commission project with Owen Pallett, Songs of Heaven.

Watch as Den and Dawn creatively explain the harpsichord’s origins, materials and connection to Rubens in detail.

Don’t miss these in-gallery performances on Wednesdays at 6 pm and Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm. These performances are free and included in the Early Rubens exhibition.

Early Rubens is on view now through January 5, 2020 on Level 2 in the Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavilion.

Admission to the AGO Collection and all special exhibitions is always free for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 and under. For more information, please visit the website.

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