Piffaro adopts Indiana Early Double Reed and Sackbut Workshop

Piffaro, The Renaissance Band has adopted the Indiana Early Double Reed and Indiana Sackbut Workshop, until recently sponsored by Early Music in Motion. The 2023 workshop ala pifarescha will take place March 5-12 at Waycross Camp & Conference Center in Morgantown, Indiana. Fees & registration: https://bit.ly/IEDRSW2023


Early Music in Motion (EMIM) launched a workshop for students interested in medieval and renaissance double reeds at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2008. Juan Carlos Arango, one of the founders and directors of EMIM, described the workshop as “designed by myself and (Piffaro artistic co-director) Robert Wiemken to provide a unique opportunity to dedicated players of the Renaissance shawm and dulcian to improve individual technique, to learn reed-making skills, compare and try instruments and play a wealth of wonderful repertoire. For intermediate to advanced amateurs and professionals alike, the workshop seeks to offer in a relaxed, sylvan setting the chance to focus solely on building skills and stretching abilities.”

The event proved successful, grew into a week-long event, with two workshops held per year and moved off campus. After several peripatetic years, it found its current home at Waycross Camp and Conference Center, located in Morgantown, IN, about 45 minutes outside Bloomington. 

As the number of participants grew, Joan Kimball (Piffaro’s other co-director) joined Wiemken on staff. In order to replicate the official loud bands of the medieval and renaissance periods – much in the practice of Piffaro’s own efforts – the Indiana Sackbut Workshop was added, with instruction provided by Adam Bregman. The IEDRW and ISW have met concurrently and interacted with one another with excellent results ever since. 

Unfortunately, after 22 consecutive Early Double Reed and  9 Sackbut Workshops, Arango felt that EMIM could no longer offer the workshops – which demand a great deal of time and effort – under its auspices.

These workshops fill a void in the opportunities available to those interested in medieval and renaissance music, instruments and performance practice on the workshop level across the country. The instructors  wished to keep them operating, and so did the participants. Piffaro, the Renaissance Band – founded by two of the Indiana Workshop’s instructors and sharing a similar history, instrumentarium, and repertoire – seemed a perfect fit to “save” the workshops. The current artistic director, Priscilla Herreid, and Piffaro’s board of directors enthusiastically endorsed the proposal; the first Piffaro Indiana Early Double Reed and Sackbut Workshop will take place in March 2023.


The workshops attract pre-professionals and amateurs of at least intermediate abilities interested in developing proper technique, and the new iteration will continue this focus. Each workshop pursues a specific repertoire, whether focused on a particular national style, composer or group of sources, providing a focus to the educational designs. A lecture will continue to be offered, often by an outside scholar, on the specific repertoire/topic of the workshop, as will reed-making sessions and triage for instruments. 

Over the years, more and more of the repertoire has been offered in facsimile, as well as in Piffaro’s own modern editions, and an emphasis on fluency in reading from original notation has expanded with sessions teaching the intricacies of the notation of various periods and sources. The Spring 2023 workshop intends to read most of its music from facsimile.

The Midwest is lacking in workshop opportunities, most of which occur on the two coasts, and so Piffaro will continue to host the IEDR&SW at Waycross Conference Center in Morgantown, IN rather than moving it to its home base in Philadelphia. The 2023 workshop ala pifarescha will take place March 5-12. Fees & registration: https://bit.ly/IEDRSW2023

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