Tryon Palace receives handcrafted harpsichord donation

On Friday, July 22, Tryon Palace received a donation to their collection of a handcrafted harpsichord by local craftsman, Ernest Miller. It is a single manual harpsichord, based off a 17thcentury design and will reside permanently in the Council Chamber. The harpsichord features hand painted designs by his wife, Sandra Shulinoff Miller, in its interior case as well as an intricate pattern along the edge of the keyboard, with inverted black and white keys. This beautiful instrument took five months to complete. 

Alyson Rhodes-Murphey, Tryon Palace Director of Collections states, “We are very thankful for Mr. Miller’s most generous gift. He is a talented craftsman and his wife is an extraordinary artist. Tryon Palace is very fortunate to receive such a beautiful instrument for the Palace Council Chamber. “

Miller is a retired choral music teacher who became a registered piano craftsman and technician. “Mr. Miller has tuned the harpsichord at Tryon Palace for over ten years and has always done a fantastic job of preparing this historic reproduction for our special programs and Palace interpretation.” Richard Baker, Tryon Palace Conservator.

The Palace’s harpsichord, after many years of performances during Candlelight and other special events, now required extensive additional repairs.  Instead, Mr. Miller decided to handcraft a new instrument for Tryon Palace in remembrance of his mentor, Paul Kennedy (October 7, 1929 – July 21, 2018).  “Paul Kennedy was the kindest, most generous man I’ve ever known. He would be proud to know that, with my donation of this harpsichord to Tryon Palace, part of his wonderful legacy will live on,” states Mr. Miller of his donation. 

Tryon Palace is thrilled to receive this generous and beautiful gift. The harpsicord can be viewed during any Palace tour offered daily, and during our upcoming holiday Candlelight tour. Tickets for this year’s Candlelight holiday event go on sale on August 1.

The rest of Mr. Miller’s works can be seen on his website at