Piffaro glories in the Wind, and the Ballet dances a Dream

by Michael Caruso
Posted 5/2/24

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, will present “Glory of the Wind Band: Music from Portugal and Spain,” Saturday, May 11.

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Piffaro glories in the Wind, and the Ballet dances a Dream


Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, will present “Glory of the Wind Band: Music from Portugal and Spain,” Saturday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The concert’s program will showcase the lush polyphony of the Iberian Peninsula through its own remarkable collection of Renaissance shawms, dulcians, recorders and sackbuts played by the astounding members of the ensemble.

 Musical sources for the program include the Spanish royal court in Madrid as well as manuscripts from Spain’s glorious Catholic cathedrals in Toledo, Zaragoza and Seville. Not to exclude Spain’s partner on the Iberian Peninsula, scores from Evora, Coimbra and Lisbon in Portugal will also be played.

 During the Renaissance – roughly 1350 through 1600 – Spain and Portugal (sometimes united into one country) were the leading European powers when it came to exploring the high seas. With Portugal in Brazil and Spain throughout the rest of North, Central and South America, the two seafaring kingdoms established sprawling empires well in advance of both the British and French empires. A century or more before the United Kingdom manned the world’s greatest navy, it was Spanish galleons that ruled the waves – that is, of course, before the Armada’s ignominious defeat by English “Sea Hawks” in 1588.

 For ticket information call 215-235-8469 or visit

 Ballet presents “The Dream” and “Prodigal Son”

 Philadelphia Ballet will close out its 2023-24 season with productions of Sir Frederick Ashton’s “The Dream” and George Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son” May 9-12 in the Academy of Music.

 Artistic director, Angel Corella, explained, “As we close out the season, I am thrilled to present our audiences with two of ballet’s most highly regarded works: Ashton’s ‘The Dream’ and Balanchine’s ‘Prodigal Son.’ These timeless ballets not only showcase the remarkable artistry and versatility of our dancers, but also epitomize the rich tapestry of storytelling and emotion that ballet has to offer.”

 He continued by saying that “The Dream” transports audiences “to a whimsical world of fairies and magic while ‘Prodigal Son’ delves into the depths of human emotion and redemption.”

 Philadelphia Ballet has announced its 2024-25 season. It opens Oct. 18-26 with “Le Corsaire” in the Academy of Music and continues with “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 6-29. “Swan Lake” returns to the Academy, March 6-16, followed by “Bolero,” March 20-23 and “La Sylphide,” May 8-11, both at the Academy of Music. For more information visit.

 Final ‘Five Fridays’

 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, hosted the final “Five Fridays” fundraising recital April 19. Members of the Puget Sound Piano Trio performed music by Joseph Haydn, Miguel del Aguila and Felix Mendelssohn for an audience of nearly 100 local music lovers. They were rewarded with exemplary renditions of two staples of the repertoire and one compelling addition to it.

 Violinist Maria Sampen, cellist Alistair MacRae (who broke a string during the evening’s undertakings!) and pianist Ronaldo Rolim caught the high spirits encased in Haydn’s classicism in the Piano Trio in E major. They projected the pulsating rhythms and sometimes astringent harmonies of Aguila’s “Barroqueda” with technical expertise and interpretive panache.

 But it was in Mendelssohn’s subtle yet explosive Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor that they displayed their finest music-making and playing. The score came alive through expansive lyricism and dramatic delineation.

 Chamber Orchestra concert

 Dirk Brosse conducted the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia April 19 and 21 in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. The concert featured stellar performances of the local premiere of Clarice Assad’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (“Bohemian Queen”), Arnold Schoenberg’s “Verklarte Nacht” (Transfigured Night), and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and Strings. The impressive trumpet soloist in the Assad and the Shostakovich was Mary Elizabeth Bowden; she was joined by the dazzling pianist Henry Kramer in the Shostakovich.

 “Verklarte Nacht” holds a special place in Schoenberg’s canon. His Opus 4, it was written before he ventured in the dead end of 12-tone serialism, a technique of composition that lost newly-composed classical music the vast majority of its audiences – a disaster from which it has never really recovered. The tragedy of it all is that the work is a late Romantic masterpiece – profoundly emotive and deeply expressive – and not the sadly disturbed music of Schoenberg’s later career.

The ensemble will close out its 2023-24 season with “Dinnerstein Plays Mozart” May 17 and 19. 

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will celebrate its 60th anniversary season with a new music director at the helm – David Hayes. Of course, the Curtis Institute of Music alumnus is no stranger to Philadelphia music lovers. He succeeded the late Michael Korn at the head of the greatly lamented and discontinued Philadelphia Singers. The 2024-25 will feature eight programs from Oct. 4 through June 29. For more information call 215-545-1739 or visit

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