Much of our knowledge of Renaissance music comes from the writings of Michael Praetorius, a composer and musical theorist who left us a lot of information about the musical life of his time. His best-known book is an anthology of 300 Renaissance dances he called Terpsichore, after the Greek goddess of dance. This weekend, Philadelphia’s resident Renaissance wind band, Piffaro, will devote an entire program to selections from a collection that includes some of the most enjoyable, foot-tapping music ever recorded on paper.
Piffaro has frequently performed dances from Terpsichore but this will be the first time they’ve built an entire concert around Praetorius’s mammoth compendium. They’ll be joined by a new partner: an early-music consort called Sonnambula, currently the ensemble-in-residence at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sonnambula will blend the special sound of the viol with Piffaro’s wind instruments. Viols look like violins and cellos but they’re an older type of instrument with a warmer, less assertive sound. They employ a different kind of bow with a different bowing technique, and they have different structural characteristics.
The Met is calling the event a “landmark program” that “brings together the nation's leading interpreters of Renaissance repertoire.” The two groups will repeat this concert June 1 at the Met, but you can hear it first in Philadelphia this weekend.
Piffaro, the Renaissance Band will present Dancers’ Delight: Michael Praetorius’ Terpsichore on March 15 at 7:30pm at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 South 38th Street; March 16 at 7:30pm at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue; and March 17 at 3pm at Christ Church Christiana Hundred, 505 Buck Road, Wilmington, Delaware. Tickets range from $29 to $49, with youth and full-time students free. Visit Piffaro online or call (215) 235-8469 for more information.