The Continuo Mentorship Program seeks to mentor and develop the next generation of Australian-based harpsichord and continuo players, addressing a severe shortfall in training in this area. It is a specialised skill that is grown only with hands-on experience and exposure to rehearsals and performances, with specific instruction and mentorship by expert performers. This program seeks to develop and nourish stylish and effective performances and collaborations with other instrumentalists and vocalists.


It is a great honour and privilege to take part in the inaugural Pinchgut Continuo Mentorship Program. Not only do I get to work with the leading practitioners of historical performance in Australia, but this practical experience is invaluable as an emerging continuo player, providing the necessary skill set that can only truly be learned in the rehearsal studio and the concert stage.

- Andrei Hadap

'Our first participant in the program, Andrei Hadap, is one of the most talented keyboardists I have had the pleasure of teaching. He is diligent, curious, and industrious and demonstrates a clear intelligence and aptitude in his approach to music-making.'

                                                                                                       - Erin Helyard

Andrei Hadap and Erin Helyard. Photo by Jasmin Simmons.


'Keyboard instruments were ubiquitous in all repertoires of the 17th- and 18th-century and learning how to play continuo, or the art of improvised accompaniment in this repertoire, is an essential part of performance practice. Pinchgut's Continuo Mentorship Program seeks to support a new generation of keyboardists in this highly specialised skill through mentorship, tuition, and practical experience.'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    - Erin Helyard
Learning how to read and realise the figures is only one aspect to continuo playing.

Beginning in 2021, the Pinchgut Opera Continuo Mentorship Program is envisaged as a two-year undertaking, with new participants either being invited to participate or being selected by application. The program comes with a stipend and creates opportunities to engage with and learn from Artistic Director and harpsichordist/conductor Erin Helyard, Orchestra of the Antipodes continuo players (eg theorbo, harp, and bowed bass), principal singers, and other historically-informed specialists engaged for Pinchgut operas and/or concerts.

The participant will develop musical skills and experience throughout the year with which they can then utilise to further develop their career and will maintain connections with Pinchgut Opera for future seasons and other potential performance opportunities. The Continuo Participant will participate for two years with a review after 12 months and with a possibility of extension. Developmental opportunities over the two years includes:

  • Mentorship with Erin Helyard
    One-on-one sessions with Erin Helyard focussing on harpsichord playing within ensembles, developing and honing the skills required for a keyboard continuo player and repetiteur, realising and figuring a score, and the process of repertoire preparation for productions and concerts.

  • Coaching sessions with Pinchgut Opera singers and players
    Up to eight sessions a year with principal singers and/or Orchestra of the Antipodes continuo players mostly structured around Pinchgut Opera rehearsals for our operas and concerts.

  • Pinchgut Opera Rehearsals
    The participant will be invited to observe Erin direct both concert and opera rehearsals and may be invited to play during some rehearsals as identified by Erin, depending on level of preparation.

  • Performance Opportunities
    As Pinchgut Opera develops our Learning & Engagement Program and potential regional touring, the participant could be engaged to perform and even direct smaller scale concerts and/or fundraising events.

The Continuo Mentorship Program is generously supported by Norman Gillespie.

If you wish to support the program, you can make a donation via our website here.


Applications are open for the next Continuo Mentorship Program participant, set to begin in 2023.
To apply via Pinchgut Opera’s website all year round.

Applicants will usually be a few years into tertiary or advanced study or indeed may have already begun a professional career. They should demonstrate clear potential for a career as a harpsichordist or continuo player and should already have gained some experience or study in figured bass and performing 17th- and/or 18th-century music.

Application requirements:

  • Applicant must have clear evidence of harpsichord playing and/or continuo playing prior to application.
  • Include a cover letter addressing why you are interested in the program and the criteria above.
  • Include a headshot and biography that includes all music education and training and professional performance experience.
  • Include two or more referees who we can speak to about harpsichord and continuo playing experience.

Application process:

Pinchgut Opera acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the first story-tellers and singers of songs. We pay our respects to elders past, present, and emerging. 
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