May 19, 2015 |
Piffaro, Philadelphia's Renaissance wind band, celebrated a big anniversary this weekend. Not its own 30th (that's next season), but the 500th birthday of perhaps the most influential composer you've never heard of: Cipriano de Rore, the first to deliberately shape his music to the meaning and rhythm of the text being sung rather than using the words mostly as pegs for constructions of notes. With that change in emphasis, Rore transformed vocal music and made possible the birth of opera in the following century.
March 17, 2015 |
So you think sumptuous Florence was the artistic hot spot of Renaissance Italy? Wealthy, watery Venice? Ever-decadent Rome? Well, there's a dark-horse candidate: Ferrara, a prosperous little city where for two centuries the ruling d'Este family spent handsomely to attract some of the best artists, poets, and musicians in all of Europe. One surviving treasure from Ferrara's heyday is a 15th-century songbook with pieces by some of the age's great composers that Duke Ercole I d'Este acquired for his celebrated (and well-paid)
October 22, 2014 |
Philadelphia didn't necessarily harbor intense cultural longing for a musical artifact of 16th-century Spain, but it got one anyway, thanks to Piffaro, the Renaissance Band. And now who would want to be without it? Though the group trafficks in other centuries (even the 21st) and artistic nationalities, the late Spanish Renaissance is where its heart lies - one of the best-ever periods for music, as represented by Piffaro's program "Hidden Treasure: The Lerma Codex" Friday at the Trinity Center for Urban Life.
May 20, 2014 |
Acoustics are snappy. Atmosphere is enveloping. So why don't we hear more concerts at Eastern State Penitentiary? That gothic Fairmount Avenue fortress hosts any number of arts-related activities these days, and it turned out to be a perfectly sympathetic venue on Friday for Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, in a program appropriately titled "Prisoners & Penitents. " Gleefully perverse humor was prevalent in a series of ballads, mostly British (John Dowland, Peter Philips, Thomas Weelkes)
April 1, 2014 |
"If music be the food of love . . . . " Oh, please, some quotations deserve a rest. Also, music of Shakespeare's plays accompanied witches, madness, and any number of unlovely things in "The Band and the Bard," the program that Piffaro, the Renaissance band, gave on Saturday at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, welcoming back two members from their recent extended Broadway run with Shakespeare's Globe, for which they played incidental music onstage....
January 3, 2014 |
NEW YORK - Broadway is the last place Priscilla Smith Herreid expected to report for work while on leave from the Philadelphia Renaissance wind band Piffaro. Nor did she train for a career in music at Temple University and the Juilliard School in order to work with a great Shakespearean actor like Mark Rylance. Yet here she is at the Belasco, where Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is performing Richard III , along with Twelfth Night, eight times a week to rave reviews. She plays a Renaissance-era shawm - precursor of today's oboe - to underscore each and every beheading.
February 27, 2013 |
Bad ideas can be less intimidating than brilliant ones: Beethoven's Choral Fantasy , for example, is one of the composer's more ramshackle works. Yet the Mendelssohn Club commissioned local composer Jeremy Gill to write a companion piece to it. As if we needed another? But without a masterpiece as competition, Gill seemed creatively liberated in Before the Wresting Tides , which premiered Saturday at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, and showed him claiming his artistic identity beneath Beethoven's furrowed brow.
December 24, 2012 |
Joy is the destination emotion this time of year. And the pressure to get there is enormous, which is where Christmas concerts come into our lives. Two weekend programs intelligently attacked the problem from opposite directions: Piffaro the Renaissance Band took the left-brain route Saturday at the Trinity Center in a Germanic program with fine program notes and lighting levels that allowed you follow translations from Latin and German when guest soprano Laura Heimes was singing. On Friday, the Crossing choir at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill was a right-brain concert full of mystery and candlelit atmosphere.
November 23, 2012
There's no place like local for the holidays. Here are some artisanal gift and craft ideas that will make you and yours merry. $20 and under Soothing salve. Winter weather is murder on the skin, so Janet Curtis, owner of Jahaya's Organic Skin Care, has a selection of soothing products featuring a shea butter base - a perfect stocking stuffer for dry-skin sufferers. To buy: Refresh Me Collagen Facial Mist, $10; Cool Citrus Basil Shea Butter, $15; Pumpkin Masque, $15; at Jahaya's, 7201 Germantown Ave., 215-247-8226.
October 16, 2012 |
Polyphonic music from the Renaissance has been compared to an Italian dinner table in which everybody is simultaneously talking - and intently listening. So when Piffaro, the Philadelphia Renaissance band, embarked on a program of music from Germany, the instruments were unusually talkative in that thorough Germanic way, creating a program with satisfying density (even some of the "anonymous" pieces had good fugal writing) while also giving folksy slices of village life. Titled "Pfeiffern!"