Early Music Festival Program No. 3



the Renaissance Band


History Center; July 9



Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry

VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn — who was beheaded for failing to

produce a "male" heir. Their daughter became Queen Elizabeth I —

the "virgin" queen — who ruled for 45 years, producing a flowering of the

arts in England, including music (the irony would have been lost on Henry).

However, virginity was hardly on the minds of the English song-writers of the

late 16th century, as any

examination of typical lyrics would testify. Piffaro, a primarily instrumental

group-of-seven, failed to give us much of that flavor as Grant Herreid supplied

us with few vocals. The group's examination of Elizabethan instrumentals was,

however, rewarding. Lutes, shawms (the oboe's forerunner), recorders, sackbuts

(the trombone's forerunner), bagpipes and crumhorns (gratefully a forerunner of

nothing) were displayed and played in abundance, each player at home on most of

these instruments. English composers Robert Parsons, Robert Jones, William

Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Weelkes and the ubiquitous Anonymous, along with

Piffaro's own "adjustments," were featured. Daphna Mor provided one of the

concert's biggest highlights with Robert Johnson's "Masking Ayre: The

Nobleman," in which she dazzled on a soprano recorder. Correspondingly, Joan

Kimball showed astonishing virtuosity on the — of all instruments —

bagpipe, in another masking ayre, "Cupararee." A humorous paean to tobacco,

"The Indian Weed is Withered Quite," featured singer Herreid, accompanied by

three crumhorns, their nasal timbres a perfect cautionary against smoking.

Though the Piffaro players were quite accomplished, I would have preferred more

Elizabethan singing


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