The Treasury of Music Manuscripts

Witness milestones in music history by touring precious books of handwritten music since the Middle Ages. This workshop balances exposure to the genres and styles of traditional plainchant of Western Europe with a survey of issues in Renaissance vocal polyphony through the lens of primary musical sources. The six synchronous sessions feature the study of rare music books spanning the tenth through the sixteenth century. These sources provide the basis for a dialogue on historical context, musical style, notation, editing, and performance issues. Offline activities include reading preparation, discussion boards, and the option of one-on-one time with the instructor. At the end of the module, small groups will present on a manuscript to demonstrate their learning from the discussion and readings. This workshop is appropriate for anyone with a casual or serious interest in plainchant and polyphonic music who wants to probe this music from a refreshing perspective.

Alkemie & Friends present “Florilegium: Plant Strains Across the English Channel”

Join Alkemie & Friends for an interactive olfactory concert on January 23, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. EST! Violets, grapes, roses, medicinal herbs, and Tolkien’s “Simbelmynë” (or Evermind) all make an appearance in this concert of 16th-century vocal and instrumental music from England and France. “Peel-n-sniff” cards bearing essential oils and contemporaneous botanical images are handmade to accompany this program – ticket buyers receive a series of fragrances that match plants referenced in the music.

Alkemie members Tracy Cowart (voice, harps) and Sian Ricketts (voice, winds) are joined by Corey Shotwell (tenor, melodica), Harrison Hintzsche (baritone, melodica, percussion), Ben Matus (tenor, winds, composer), and Jim Hopkins (baritone, harmonium).

It’s SMELL-O-VISION – but in the privacy of your own home with custom-made cards that match the images on-screen.

Tickets start at $16; please contact to inquire about group viewing rates and/or if circumstances necessitate financial aid. ORDER by January 17 to ensure timely delivery of interactive program materials. The broadcast will be available On-Demand through February 7, 2021.

Piffaro presents Music for Twelfth Night

Piffaro, the Renaissance Wind Band, will celebrate Twelfth Night with a digital concert featuring music for 17th Century English Masques.  The concert will livestream January 5, accompanied by a live chat, and will remain available for one week on demand. Digital tickets ($15) and subscriptions ($45) are available online at or by calling 215-235-8469.

Watch preview:

English court masques featured masked performers dancing and singing to the playing of the court musicians and were popular during Christmastide – especially on Twelfth Night. They consist of a comic “antimasque,” performed by professional actors and dancers, and a stately main masque, danced by the courtiers themselves. Piffaro’s musicians have some fun with the antimasque dances in its program, wearing masks to evoke dancing birds, bears, goats, baboons and witches, as in the original masques. The program will feature English masque repertoire arranged by Grant Herreid for Piffaro’s signature array of shawms, dulcians, recorders, bagpipes, krumhorns, and especially the band’s bass instruments: octave bass dulcian, contrabass recorder and bass sackbut. A candle dance, choreographed by Herreid, will evoke the torchbearer processions of the 17th century masques. The end result is a Twelfth Night program that is an unusual offering on the holiday concert calendar, full of mystery and beauty.

Caroline Nicolas: Keeping Tabs on the Gamba

Just like a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, the viola da gamba underwent a metamorphosis from the lute, conveying with it vestigial traits of the lute tradition. Chief among them was the practice of reading from tablature, only now with a bow in hand. Rising star Caroline Nicolas chaperones our exploration of transformation in the music of Abel, Ortiz, and Hume.

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