The harpsichord conjures up the melodies of Couperin, Bach and other 18th-century court composers. But composing for the instrument did not end in the golden age of Europe's monarchs, as harpsichordist Ilton Wjuniski will demonstrate tonight at the Renwick Gallery.

"Historical awareness is necessary with the harpsichord," says Wjuniski. "One must learn the different styles and be aware of the ways harpsichords were played." But with modern composers, he says, one has the liberty of self-expression.

In addition to works by Girolamo Frescobaldi, J.S. Bach, Antoine Forqueray and other baroque composers, Wjuniski's program will feature the Washington premieres of Argentine composer Luis Mucillo's "Alba" and "Los Pa'jaros," parts of Mucillo's "The Book of Images," which received first prize in last year's international Trieste Composition Competition. "The work requires a mixture of the pianist's agility and the harpsichordist's sensitivity," says Wjuniski.

A native of Brazil and a prize-winning graduate of the Paris Conservatory, Wjuniski appears as a part of the Smithsonian's Pro Musicis Series.

Upcoming artists in this year's series are flutist Stephanie Jutt, cellist Shauna Rolston and saxophonist Joseph Lulloff.

Tonight's concert in the Renwick's Grand Salon begins at 7. For information, call 357-3030.