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Arts Desk

Check Out Piffaro, The Renaissance Band's Popular Recorder Fest for Students—Online for 2021!

Piffaro-Recorder-Consort_2018.jpg
Bill DeCecca
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Piffaro, The Renaissance Band in March 2018 at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. From L to R: Erik Schmalz, Priscilla Herreid, Mack Ramsay, Grant Herreid, Kiri Tollaksen, Joan Kimball, Bob Wiemken, Greg Ingles, Adam Bregman.

The recorder is a great introduction to early music, which is one reason why Piffaro, The Renaissance Band is resurrecting its Recorder Fest for students online on Sunday, April 18th at 7 PM, which will include performances of two past winners and three finalists from the 2020 competition.

Piffaro-Recorder-Consort.jpg
Credit Courtesy of Piffaro, The Renaissance Band
The recorder consort.

Piffaro, The Renaissance Band plays a range of early music—from rustic country tunes to elegant repertoire of official wind bands of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. You many not recognize the names of all the more than 40 period instruments played by the six musicians, inlcuding the shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, and krumhorns. But they also play bagpipes, lutes, harps, percussion, and recorders, known in their simplest form, to schoolchildren for generations.

Here's Priscilla Smith Herreid demonstrating the recorder:

Piffaro's Recorder Fest, presented every couple years since 2007, gives middle and high school students a chance to perform in competition. In a normal year, the three finalists—selected from audition tapes from students all over the country—would have come to Philadelphia to compete, but the in-person 2020 festival was cancelled due to COVID.

This year, the Recorder Fest will celebrate all three of those 2020 finalists and two past winners with an online concert followed by a question-and-answer session. Alexa Raine-Wright, who won Piffaro's first festival in 2007, and is now a professional Baroque musician, will perform Telemann's Fantasia.

Here's a sample of the opening: 

The Recorder Fest's most recent winner, Teresa Deskur, is now a student at Peabody Institute of The John Hopkins University.  She'll play composer Pete Rose's I'd Rather be in Philadelphia, and plays the second movement here: 

Sign up here to see the this year's Recorder Fest online!

Check out WRTI's Recorder Playlist (with thanks to Piffaro and WRTI staff).