Renaissance Music Workshop and Concert
February 2016

We have great memories of the Piffaro tour of February, 2016!

It was great to get to know the members of this stellar ensemble from Philadelphia. The tour involved a concert in Vancouver, produced by our society, a two-day workshop in Victoria and a concert in Victoria, co-produced with the Early Music Society of the Islands. 

The tour was a bit more exciting than anticipated, when the group arrived at the Vancouver Airport with only half of their instruments, the other half having been held up by US Border Security. Do wooden tubes look like pipe bombs?! 

Consummate pros that they are, they fit in a special extra rehearsal in which they re-jigged their program to utilize the instruments that managed to make the trip. This was no mean trick. The Vancouver concert was done on different instruments, of different pitches and fingerings, exchanging parts between them. All this under the terrible stress of not knowing what had happened to a priceless collection of instruments that had taken decades to build up. You would never have known from the performance. It was smooth, polished and exciting as always with this ensemble. 

By the Victoria concert, a couple of days later, they had all of their instruments back and now had to fit in an extra rehearsal to get used to doing the concerts on the original instrumental configuration. That concert was a highlight of the season for many audience members. Unbelievably, for an early-music audience, the group had everyone clapping along and cheering by the end of the concert. 

The workshop, at which they were joined by early music vocalist and teacher, Elizabeth MacIsaac, was a great learning experience for participants who hailed from Victoria, the Island, Vancouver, and as far away as Seattle and Portland. . 
                                         = = = = = = = == = = = 

"Piffaro" is an old Italian word for "piper".

Hailing from Philadelphia, Piffaro have established themselves over the past 30 years as the pre-eminent Renaissance wind ensemble performing today. The ensemble was recently honored as one of only 13 U.S. arts institutions, along with such icons as the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, to be invited as a partner in the Google Cultural Institute's performing arts launch. 

"Energetic but fastidious performers; the recorder playing has a gorgeous,woody transparency; the reeds and sackbuts are raucous, bright and precisely tuned."
- New York Times

"Piffaro sits atop the early music scene as one of the world's top international ensembles"
- The Detroit News


Joining Piffaro for the workshop was Victoria early music vocalist, Elizabeth MacIsaac. 

Elizabeth studied early music studies and voice in Canada and Europe. Having had a successful career in solo voice, choral conducting and teaching, she is currently pursuing doctoral studies in choral conducting at the University of Washington. 

“I am delighted that Elizabeth MacIsaac has agreed to be my Assistant Musical Director for the upcoming co-production by Pacific MusicWorks and University of Washington of Gluck’s masterpiece Orphèe! Elizabeth brings a perfect combination of choral training technique, stylistic knowledge and linguistic ability to this task.” 

- Grammy-Award-winner, Stephen Stubbs

For a detailed description of the proposed vocal sessions, download the vocal programme description


Our two-day workshop was held in the gorgeous music building at St. Michaels University School, and featured sessions on recorder, lute, harp, sackbut, reeds and voice.