The Glory of the Wind Band: Music from Portugal & Spain

  • May 10 @ 7:30PM – Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
  • May 11 @ 7:30PM – Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, PA
  • May 12 @ 3PM – Immanuel Church Highlands, Wilmington DE
  • Streaming online May 24–June 6

Tickets & Info: 215-235-8469 or piffaro.org

Piffaro’s season finale presents a program of lush polyphony from the Iberian Peninsula, showcasing the band’s remarkable collection of Renaissance shawms, dulcians, recorders, and sackbuts, and the versatile musicians who play them.

May’s concert program draws on material performed at the Royal Court in Madrid and cathedrals in Toledo, Zaragoza, and Seville, as well as works from Évora, Coimbra and Lisbon in Portugal. The Portuguese sources involved a great deal of sleuthing on the part of artistic director Priscilla Herreid: King Joao the IV had assembled a magnificent library of compositions – arguably the largest of all time – but it was almost entirely destroyed by the Great Lisbon Earthquake (and subsequent tsunami and fires) that took place on the Feast of All Saints in 1755. We know that the library contained thousands of pieces, thanks to a surviving portion of the library catalog. Heartbreakingly, only a few remain, some only in fragments. These include works by Manuel Mendez, who taught some of the most important composers of the next generation, and Manuel Rebello, celebrated by his contemporaries as the best Portuguese composer of his day. We will present compositions from these men (a few survived in other collections) and other obscure gems alongside masterworks by well-known Spanish composers, including Tomás Luis de Victoria and Francisco Guerrero. 

“There’s a commonly heard argument in early music circles about whether instrumentalists played in church. There is plenty of evidence supporting instrumental music being heard throughout the mass, especially in Spain and Portugal,” asserts Herreid. “Cities in Portugal and Spain were major centers of wind band playing and music was an important part of church services. Polyphony was especially heard in the great cathedrals, and when they pulled out all the stops for some of the wind band orchestrations, the music was interesting and elaborate – perfect material for a great Piffaro concert.”

Listen:  De la piel de sus ovejas, Pedro Rimonte (1565-1627)

Download: Press photos by Anthony Dean

Photo: Bill DiCecca

About Piffaro

Piffaro, the Renaissance band has delighted audiences around the world for over three decades with highly polished recreations of the rustic music of the peasantry and the elegant sounds of the official wind bands of the late Medieval and Renaissance periods. They bring the sounds of the Renaissance to life with their ever-expanding instrumentarium of shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, recorders, krumhorns, bagpipes, lutes, guitars, harps, and a variety of percussion – all careful reconstructions of instruments from the period and the only professional collection of its kind in North America. 

For more information, visit piffaro.org.

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