Coming up in Philly Music: Fugues for many voices

2 minute read

Most people have heard Bach fugues played on keyboard instruments like the organ, but have you ever heard a fugue played on colorful Renaissance wind instruments? The next online concert by Piffaro, Philadelphia’s Renaissance wind band, will be devoted to fugues played on Renaissance and Baroque instruments. The program will trace the history of the fugue from the Renaissance to the grand climax Bach created at the end of the Baroque.

Different voices

The fugue is a musical form noted for its complex interweaving of different voices. A concert devoted to the history of the fugue may sound like an academic exercise, but fugues can acquire an unacademic liveliness and emotional depth when they’re played by instruments that possess all the color and contrast of Renaissance and Baroque wind instruments. The interplay of the different voices is easier to follow when each voice is produced by a separate instrument.

The 19 pieces on the program include instrumental combinations that feature 12 different types of instruments, from familiar music makers like the recorder and the cello to novelties like the French bombard. For the Baroque segments, Piffaro’s Renaissance instruments will be joined by Kleine Kammermusik, a Philadelphia group that specializes in Baroque wind music played on Baroque instruments.

You’ll find descriptions of most of Piffaro’s Renaissance instruments (and samples of their sounds) in Piffaro’s exhibit in Google’s online Arts and Culture Institute.

What, When, Where, and Accessibility

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, will premiere Fuguing from Obrecht to Bach on Friday, May 28, at 7:30pm, with a livestreamed watch party featuring chats with the musicians. After that, the video will be available online through June. Tickets are $15 and the performance will be available on-demand anytime after purchase.

Image Description: Four musicians dressed in all black with different fugures play in an open courtyard in front of podiums, with colorful trees behind them.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Kleine Kammermusik was a new ensemble. They were founded in 2013. We regret the error.

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