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Piffaro

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NEWS
October 2, 2006 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The long-term quest of Piffaro, the Philadelphia-based Renaissance band, to dispel the belief that Renaissance-era instrumental music was a runt stepchild of vocal polyphony transcends any need for scholarly proof in programs such as "Iberica Resplendens," performed at three area venues over the weekend. Subtitled "Music from the Great Cathedral Collections of Spain and Portugal," the eight-part program of 16th-century music contained instrumental versions of some of the era's most richly drawn vocal works by composers such as Guerrero and Morales.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 24, 1996 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
St. Mark's Church on Locust Street, with its gilt angels and recessed altar behind which row upon row of candles twinkle, is a pleasant place to encounter Piffaro, the Renaissance Band. More significantly, the acoustics are less reverberant than in other ecclesiastical spaces that double as Philadelphia music chambers. A French Christmas was the theme for a series of concerts the ensemble gave over the weekend featuring noels from the 15th to 17th centuries. The good turnout at the performance I attended suggests that many find this music, with its gentle squawks and modal cadences, a soothing holiday tonic.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 30, 1998 | By Daniel Webster, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
If Piffaro's costumed pageant, The Stadtpfeiffer of Holzweg, proves anything, it is that Renaissance musicians had great tunes in their memories to work with. The piece also proves some other things about the value of comedy in easing understanding of serious things, as the music the ensemble played in its dance and walk through a festival day exalted one evocative melody after another. The theater piece, seen and heard Friday at the Arts Bank, has been in evolution for a couple of seasons.
NEWS
February 13, 2006 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
More than ever, special-interest ensembles in the classical music world have to be seen as impressively as they're heard. It's survival and opportunity. Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, has delivered many fine programs, but Eden: The Polyphonic Paradise of Jacob Obrecht & Hieronymus Bosch has an intense visual element thanks to projections of Bosch's fantastical paintings. So this is the one with legs: After last weekend's concerts here, Piffaro and the Flemish vocal group Capilla Flamenca tour to New York, Nashville, Tenn.
NEWS
May 9, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The nerve! If Philadelphia Orchestra audiences get justifiably upset over a program switch from Brahms to Tchaikovsky, think of what fits could be thrown over the bait and switch by Piffaro the Renaissance Band on Friday. Instead of a program devoted to the obscure 16th-century Alexander Agricola (maybe the only such program in Philadelphia history), the audience at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill got Ludwig Senfl and Heinrich Isaac. Agricola admirers should be used to such treatment; his often-cerebral music is more discussed than heard.
NEWS
November 23, 2005 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The Philadelphia-based Renaissance wind band Piffaro is in the business of creating musical time capsules of distant musical milieus - and sometimes goes rather further than that. In its superb program titled A Festive Vespers, Dresden 1620 on Sunday, the group joined forces with New York City's Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola to create an immersion into an often overlooked world that lay just beyond the German Renaissance. Many explorations of baroque music skip the period's first century in preference to the 18th-century triumvirate of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.
NEWS
October 29, 2002 | By Karin Brookes FOR THE INQUIRER
The air at Old St. Joseph's Church was heavy with incense Sunday afternoon. Mass was not led by clerics, but was in the trusty hands - and mouths - of Piffaro, a local wind band, opening its 18th concert season in Philadelphia. An extraordinarily versatile group of musicians that turns on a dime to craft new musical worlds from medieval and renaissance sources, Piffaro re-created Francisco Guerrero's Missa Sancta et Immaculata Virginitas as it might have been heard in the Cathedral of Seville, where the prolific composer was chapel master in the late 16th century.
NEWS
December 22, 2008 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
No matter how distant its origins, Christmas music across the centuries has a single common trait: a pared-down absence of complication that ensures a joyfully immediate impact. That was particularly the case in the holiday concert by Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, titled "Nouvelle Nouvelle: Christmas in Renaissance France," heard in venues in and around Philadelphia this weekend, with one performance left at 8 tonight at Princeton's All Saints Church. Augmented by a quartet of solo singers and mime artists from Maryland's Happenstance Theater creating iconic Christmas scenes, Piffaro presented a range of sacred and secular 16th-century music with unusual fusion of extroversion and integrity.
NEWS
February 28, 2005 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Though never uninteresting on its own, Piffaro the Renaissance Band periodically collaborates with a group as substantial as itself in programs that are often the best of their kind in any given season - and would be even if they weren't the only ones of their kind in this community. Last weekend's trio of concerts - I caught the Saturday performance at the near-full Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill ? was a prime example. In a custom-made program titled "Music From the Court of Ferrara," the alternately sweet and sour sackbuts, recorders and bagpipes of Piffaro were augmented by the quintet of Renaissance-period string instruments of the King's Noyse.
NEWS
December 20, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Even Piffaro's strongest believers would not expect the Philadelphia Renaissance band to make good on the title of its concert, "Drive the Cold Winter Away!" particularly in venues that happen to be hard-to-heat churches. But the solstice program was such a witty alternative to usual holiday fare that wearing wool socks was hardly a prohibitive admission requirement. The guest artists, soprano Laura Heimes and tenor Philip Anderson, were by themselves good reasons to catch Saturday's concert at St. Mark's Church (repeated Monday at Princeton's All Saints Church)
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ARTICLES BY DATE
ENTERTAINMENT
May 19, 2015 | By Matthew Westphal, For The Inquirer
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 17, 2015 | By Matthew Westphal, For The Inquirer
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)
ENTERTAINMENT
October 22, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 20, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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)
ENTERTAINMENT
April 1, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
"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....
NEWS
January 3, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 27, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
NEWS
December 24, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
NEWS
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 16, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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!"
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