Piffaro announces digital season

Piffaro, Philadelphia’s Renaissance Wind Band, has elected to forgo live concerts in the 20/21 season. However, executive director Shannon Cline sees a silver lining to presenting concerts online. “Our enforced absence from the stage provides our period music specialists an intriguing opportunity to explore the relationship that people had with music 500 years ago. Without the practical challenges of accommodating hundreds of attendees, we can make music in spaces that more closely resemble those for which it was written. The video camera can bring our viewers right into the musicians’ shared performance space, and the musicians into the viewers’ domestic habitat, mimicking the more intimate relationship between musician and listener that people in that period enjoyed.”

Each hour-long program will premiere on a Friday evening with musicians online for a live chat and remain available for viewing on demand for one week.

Digital tickets ($15) and subscriptions ($60) are available online at Piffaro.org or by calling 215-235-8469.

Concert 1: October 30 – November 4, 2020
Watch Party, Oct 30 @ 7:30PM

The quiet streets of Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood aren’t so quiet on Monday evenings, when the forty-seven bells of one of the continent’s oldest carillons ring out from the Miraculous Medallion Shrine’s 125-foot bell tower.

The carillon came into its own four hundred years ago, when the blind musician Jacob Van Eyck, with his astonishing sense of hearing that allowed him to register overtones undetectable to most ears, worked with craftsmen in Utrecht to develop new techniques for casting bells so that they would play more sweetly.  He also had a prodigious musical memory and would play hundreds of tunes on his little recorder in church courtyards, which, happily for generations of recorder players, were captured in Der Fluyten Lusthof.

Miraculous Medallion Shrine’s internationally recognized carillonneur, Janet Tebbel, joined Piffaro’s musicians on site last month to film a program honoring the blind musician and his legacy.

Concert 2: December 18–25, 2020
Watch Party, Dec 18 @ 7:30PM

December’s holiday program will highlight seasonal favorites in a multitude of settings from composers throughout renaissance Europe and the New World, emphasizing the quiet respite and reminder of life’s potentials that music can provide in unquiet times. Viewers will be invited to sing along with Piffaro’s full panoply of period wind instruments: shawms, sackbuts and dulcians, full consorts of recorders, and the nasal sweetness of a gaggle of krumhorns.

Concert 3: March 5 – 11, 2021
Watch Party, Mar 5 @ 7:30PM

The opportunity to revisit a popular production that would otherwise be too expensive to remount is a silver lining in a digital season. Piffaro’s 2016 program, The Musical World of Don Quixote, was a major event for the ensemble. Creatively curated by band member Grant Herreid, it features the artistry of numerous guests, including soprano Nell Snaidas, the male vocal quartet New York Polyphony, GRAMMY Award-winning percussionist Glen Velez, guitarist Charles Weaver, and Spanish dulcian player (and frequent Jordi Savall collaborator) Josep Boras. Choreographer Christopher Williams, stage director Leland Kimball, and lighting designer Adam Mack helped create movement and atmosphere that enhanced the arc of the story, resulting in deeply moving experience.

Concert 4: May 7 – 13, 2021
Watch Party, May 7 @ 7:30PM

Philadelphia’s early music scene thrives more with each passing year. One of the newcomers, Kleine Kammermusik, echoes Piffaro’s particular focus on wind instruments but in their baroque iteration. Kleine Kammermusik joins Piffaro in charting the development of the fugue, from its 15th c. beginnings in the hands of Johannes Ockeghem through J.S. Bach’s 18th c. masterwork, Der Kunst der Fuge.

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