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Fanfare: Piffaro's 'The Year the Music Died,' and other intrigues

Welcome to Fanfare — our weekly guide to live classical music in the Philadelphia area. Subscribe now to get the weekly mailing delivered straight to your inbox. To let us know about an event on the horizon, or share other feedback, drop us a line!

Spotlight: Piffaro, The Renaissance Band — Friday at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, Saturday at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian, Oct. 15 in Wilmington, DE

Four hundred years ago, in 1623, three masters of the English Renaissance all died: Thomas Weelkes, William Byrd and Philip Rosseter. Their departure ended the first “golden age” of English music. Byrd is rightly considered to be one of the finest composers of the era, and his music, alongside that of Rosseter and Weelkes, can open a window into life in the court and country at this exciting time in history. Piffaro — a pioneering band specializing in music of the Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque period — are exactly the right “pied pipers” to draw audiences into this wonderful repertoire, with a well-researched and entertaining program.

Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m., Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 South 38th Street
Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue
Oct. 15 at 3 p.m., Immanuel Church, Highlands, 2400 West 17th Street A, Wilmington, DE

$29 to $54, tickets and more information

Jessica Griffin

The Philadelphia Orchestra — Thursday through Saturday, Kimmel Cultural Center

The Fabulous Philadelphians had a brilliant opening night performance of the Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninoff, repertoire that they own. While management has yet to strike a deal with the musicians’ union, performances are expected to continue, which means there’ll be more chances to hear the orchestra perform Rachmaninoff. His first two symphonies, presented on alternating nights, are powerful (Symphony No. 1, Thursday), lushly romantic (Symphony No. 2, Friday and Saturday) — and not to be missed. The Brazilian-American composer, pianist and singer Clarice Assad is an intriguing and original voice. I can’t wait to hear her new bassoon concerto, written for Daniel Matsukawa, the orchestra’s principal bassoon.

Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 13 at 2 p.m., and Oct. 14 at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Center, 300 South Broad Street, $25 to $181; purchase tickets.

courtesy of the artist

VOCES8 — Thursday, Longwood Gardens

The beloved English a cappella group VOCES8 returns to the Philadelphia area with their usual mix of choral favorites impeccably sung in their signature blend. From Renaissance polyphony to cheeky arrangements of the Great American Songbook, the concert’s theme and centerpiece is “Choral Dances” from Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana. (At last check, this concert was sold out, but if you’re interested, it may be worth checking again.)

Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m., Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square; sold out, more information.

Mendelssohn Chorus — Saturday, Church of the Holy Trinity

To begin its 150th season, the Mendelssohn Chorus presents a program inspired by the words of Leonard Bernstein: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” Juxtaposing Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli (Mass in time of war) with two contemporary pieces by Joel Thompson and music director Dominic DiOrio, the Chorus brings its dedicated and heartfelt singing to address the hatred in the world through solidarity and hope for a better future.

Oct. 14 at 4 p.m., The Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street, $30 and $40 (students and seniors $20 and $30); purchase tickets.

As a young violinist, Meg Bragle regularly listened to her local classical music station and loved calling in on Saturday mornings to request pieces, usually by Beethoven. The hosts were always kind and played her requests (often the Fifth Symphony), fostering a genuine love for radio.