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R. P. Hale
R. P. Hale is an interdisciplinary artist, musician and astronomer from a Mexican family that is noted for its long involvement in the arts. Born in Tucson, Arizona, he is a sixth-generation master calligrapher and illustrator, fifth-generation musician and third-generation wood engraver, printer and gilder. Mr. Hale is a harpsichordist, organist, instrument-design draftsman, technician and builder of early keyboard instruments and period-design hammer dulcimers. He also makes and supplies marbleized papers for bookbinders, other artists, and of course, harpsichords.
He took his degrees in microbiology and organic chemistry and minored in scientific illustration at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and taught courses there in scientific illustration, technical photography, and organic chemistry for six years. He also trained as a medical illustrator and is still active in that field. He is a visiting/adjunct faculty member in art, printmaking and astronomy with Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV.
He began studying harpsichord at the University of Arizona with Dr. James Anthony for several years and then worked with a succession of mentors, including and especially the late Igor Kipnis.
He built his first harpsichord — a Zuckermann Concert IV — in 1976. In 1980, he resigned from the university to work as a carriage-smith and harpsichord maker and as a touring concert harpsichordist, finally moving to Concord, NH in 1982.
He started teaching early music and harpsichord, clavichord and hammer-dulcimer at St.Paul's School in Concord, NH, where he is now active in astronomy and physics as well as working as Assisting Chapel Organist there — and woodcarving for the Chapel. He is also the organist/music minister for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Manchester, NH. He is Senior Educator in astronomy, physics, spectroscopy and archaeo-astronomy at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord NH and his archaeo-astronomical work is well known in Mayan Studies circles. He was in the forefront in debunking the "2012 prophecies" as fraud and extremely disrespectful to living Mesoamerican cultures, including his own. His major interests in music are continuo accompaniment and early Hispanic music. He still finds time for intensive research in the early and pre-Hispanic music of Mexico and Central America, and in Mayan and Aztec astronomy and calendar systems, learning the Aztec Náhuatl and Ch'ol Mayan languages in the process. He also continues with his other interests in wood engraving, printmaking, Letterpress printing, drawing, marbling, woodcarving, and especially calligraphy. His wood-engraved prints and calligraphy are featured in several international exhibits and are in demand among rare-print collectors. He has taught those arts, as well as music and traditional dance, at home in NH and the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV, since 1980; and he has taught English, Colonial and Scottish dance and music at the Pinewoods Camp in Plymouth, MA.
Mr. Hale works with museums throughout New England as a cultural re-enactor of the 1740s in music, dance, printing, calligraphy and astronomy. Most of his concert performances are period reenactments at historic sites. As a professional harpsichordist, musical consultant, draftsman, designer and builder-technician, Mr. Hale works closely with the ZHI factory in Stonington, CT in a wide range of fields and is equally at home in woodworking as well as finishing and voicing. He was instrumental in redesigning most of the current ZHI instruments and made the first working drawings for the Logan Spinet, Hubert Clavichord and Moremans Flemish Double among others.
Mr. Hale was recently cited by the Smithsonian Institution as one of this country's premier harpsichord/dulcimer makers and was the sole harpsichord maker featured in an Institute exhibit devoted to American instrument makers. The 35 early-keyboard instruments he has built are all Zuckermann models originating from the Stonington shop.