Piffaro – Music for 12th Night

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For most of the last five years, the majority of my video work has been for performing arts organizations. And 2020 started off no different. Then came the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the ensuing shutdowns that have ground all traditional performances to a halt. But you can’t really stop the arts. Artists and organizations have scrambled to find a way to share their work with audiences, and video happens to help in that regard. This post will be the third in my series “Performing Arts in the Pandemic,” highlighting how organizations in the performing arts have rethought the way they present work to audiences.

Like many other performing arts groups, Piffaro The Renaissance Band, took its 2020/2021 season online. Tuesday night Music for 12th Night opened, the ensemble’s second concert of this season. Viewer’s could purchase e-tickets and watch during the live “watch party” with commenting enabled at 7:30 Tuesday night. For those who couldn’t watch last night, the e-ticket also includes the opportunity to stream it for a week after the opening night. You can also re-watch it with your e-ticket. 

Music for 12th Night takes us back to “masque” performances from the 17th century English Court of James I and celebrates the 12th day of Christmas. Grant Herreid, Piffaro’s lutenist, did the research and arranging to put the 22-song performance together. With their impressive array of instruments, the musicians played a variety of songs with varying sounds and moods from dark pieces to revels, in their beautiful Renaissance style. 

Back in early September, Sharon Torello asked me to shoot second camera on Piffaro’s first online concert of the season, Bells & Whistles: Van Eyck, Dutch Carillonneur & Recorderist. We filmed it in the courtyard at the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown, and the performance also included Janet Tebbel playing the carillon at the top of the tower. 

Due to a family emergency, Sharon asked me to take the lead on the second concert. She worked with me over the two days of filming, and I handled post-production. We filmed at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral in University City back in late November. David Lowe did the lighting for each song. John Baker of Affeto Records recorded the audio, and Patrick Rapa was our production assistant. 

The video above is the performance of “Now Winters Night,” written by Thomas Campion (1567-1620). It is from the first set of the six set concert.

Due to Covid-19, we had regular breaks every thirty minutes for air exchanges in the cathedral. All crew and musicians wore masks, except when the musicians were playing an instrument that required wind.