The Indianapolis Early Music Festival welcomes the Renaissance wind band Piffaro to the Frank and Katrina Basile Theater of the Indiana History Center this summer.
Piffaro began as a group of students at the University of Pennsylvania in the early eighties. Current co-artistic director Bob Wiemken remembers joining the group in 1982. “I had been a French horn player, but it was the double reed instruments that I really got caught up in. When we started, the instruments and the music itself were much more mysterious and distant than they’ve become. It was and continues to be a real adventure of discovery.”
A Global Project
The band began with Italian repertoire and spread from there. “We’ve kind of covered the map of Europe with our researches, recordings and touring programs. As you might guess from our name, ‘Piffaro,’ it began with the wind bands of Italy, but since then we’ve looked at the traditions and ensembles of France, of Germany and Spain. Actually, it seems a bit peculiar that we took so long to work on the music of England. Our fans had been quite encouraging about this.”
It took some time to find an entré into that repertoire. “When we looked at the music of England and our resources the period from about the middle of the 16th into the first quarter of the 17th century – roughly the time of Elizabeth and Shakespeare, plus a few more years – seemed the best fit. Now we feature works by William Byrd and the two Thomases, Tallis and Weelkes, among others. It’s music that you might have heard in the streets alongside pieces you could encounter in cathedrals. In addition to the composed pieces that we feature, we’ve also done some of our own arrangements of the great tunes that were popular during that period.”
Now their fans can rejoice; Piffaro’s newest album is entitled “Waytes: English Music for a Renaissance Town Band.”