Fellow MPRO Members,

First of all this month, our thoughts go out to long standing orchestra member Anne-Marie Wiggers in her recent illness. We all hope for Anne-Marie’s rapid and full recovery, and wish her and her family strength through this time.

In more personal news, the increasing demands of work and a young family are making it difficult for me to continue in an active role in the organization. I regret that my availability for practices, rehearsals and concerts will be very limited going forward.

I will continue to fulfill my administrative duties through the rest of my current term, and will ensure a smooth transition to the next President for the 2015-16 season.

This was a very difficult decision to make. I want to thank the Board and members of the MPRO for welcoming me to the organization. I hope to eventually return to the orchestra in a more active capacity.

In the meantime, we have an exciting season ahead. Our 2014 Holiday Concert is just around the corner, followed closely by the January Workshop with Adam Gilbert. These events, Fred and Greta’s musical leadership, and the dedication of our members will make it another memorable year.

Regards, Dana

Note from the Editor: Many thanks to Dana for the interesting monthly articles he contributed during the last year and a half. Guest writers are invited to contribute articles for the remainder of the 2014-2015 season. The next issue will be February 2015. Please contact Mary Ann Field.





Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,


Here are some of the highlights for the second half of the orchestra's 2014-2015 season:  MPRO’s spring concert will be scheduled early in January.  You will be informed of the date and location as soon as reservations for the performing venue have been confirmed. 


On Saturday, January 31, Adam Gilbert will be directing a workshop for MPRO.  You will find details about the workshop in this issue of Upbeat.  This is a wonderful opportunity to work with one of today’s leading experts in renaissance music and its performance practice, and I encourage everyone in the orchestra to attend this workshop and experience the next best thing to learning directly from one of the masters of music from the 15th century.


 I am also pleased to announce that Greta Haug-Hryciw will continue as the orchestra’s Assistant Director and that Irene Beardsley will be playing keyboard with the orchestra at its upcoming spring concert.  Irene will also be with us at the January 21 meeting, and since this will be one of the few opportunities to rehearse the music that calls for keyboard with all forces present, I encourage everyone to attend that evening.  Music for the second half of the orchestra’s 2014-2015 season will include an antiphonal canzona by Giovanni Gabrieli and a suite, originally written for wind instruments, by the late baroque composer, Johann Philipp Krieger, as well as the following music from the first half of the season:  Mainerio, Caro Ortolano; Jarzebski, Berlinesa; Guerrero, Adiós mi amor; Josquin, Adieu mes amors and Elfers and Johansson, Pippi Långstrump.


Listed below is the music for the orchestra's first three meetings of the New Year.  Please note that there will be sectional seating for the Gabrieli Canzon Noni Toni, with those in Coro Primo on the right as they face the conductor and those in Coro Secondo on the left.  Please observe this seating arrangement when you choose your place at the beginning of the meetings on January 21 and February 11.  Please note as well that sopranino and contrabass recorders, bassoon and krummhorns will be needed at all three meetings and great bass recorders on January 7 and February 11.


January 7

Krieger:  Partie

Guerrero:  Adiós mi amor

Josquin:  Adieu mes amors

Elfers and Johansson:  Pippi Långstrump



January 21

Mainerio:  Caro Ortolano

Gabrieli:  Canzon Noni Toni

Jarzebski:  Berlinesa

Krieger:  Partie



February 11

Krieger:  Partie

Gabrieli:  Canzon Noni Toni

Guerrero:  Adiós mi amor

Josquin:  Adieu mes amors

Elfers and Johansson:  Pippi Långstrump


I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings and working on this music with you.  Please let any of your friends who play early instruments know about the orchestra's varied activities and invite them to attend an MPRO meeting, workshop or concert.


Sincerely, Fred Palmer




How 15th-Century Composers Transformed the Prosaic into the Sublime or A Musical Trinity: 

Three Types of 15th-Century Love Songs in One

by Adam Gilbert

Invoking the time honored trinity of Virgilian styles, the 15th-century theorist and composer, Johannes Tinctoris, listed three different types of songs: Cantus magnus (“grand song”) referred to the Mass. Cantus mediocris (medium song) referred to the Motet. The third genre, cantus parvus (“little song”), referred to love songs.


If there had been radios in the Renaissance, there would have been a top-forty of love songs, nothing but love songs. Fortunately, many of these chansons—composed by the likes of Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, Antoine Busnois, Johannes Pullois, Loyset Compère, Firminus Caron, Henricus Isaac, and Josquin Desprez—survive in manuscripts lovingly copied by anonymous scribes, and saved from ruin by avid collectors over the centuries. 


Composers did more than just set love poems to music.  Like modern jazz musicians, they improvised and composed florid counterpoint over favorite melodies and added new voices to old songs.  Like modern hip-hop artists, they sampled small fragments of songs to use as ostinato patterns for new versions. They made satirical commentary on elegant love songs by juxtaposing them with racy, rustic tunes and downright obscene texts.  Like Noël Coward and Cole Porter, composers borrowed, parodied and alluded to songs by their colleagues, teachers and friends. And they chose the love songs to be the cantus firmi of their grandest sacred motets and masses.


There was a rich theological and Platonic tradition for this practice. Based on the idea that humans can only reach for the inconceivable and pure, universal divine through the realm of sensible perception, composers chose

songs that pulled at human heartstrings, leading upward toward heavenly

salvation.  This is why Isaac and Josquin would use Binchois Comme femme desconfortée as the basis for a Marian Mass or the motet Stabat mater dolorosa.  What better song to bring the sorrows of Mary to life than one about “the saddest woman in the world” whose love has been stolen by Death?  Or consider Heyne van Ghizeghem’s De tous beins plaine est ma maistresse (“My Lady is full of all good things”), one of the most popular chansons of the century. Loyset Compère would take the melody and translate its text to Latin in the motet Omnium bonorum plena, implying that the Virgin Mary “is full (pregnant) of all good things.”  And then there is the song Et trop penser, whose text describes the dream of seeing a lover naked in the middle of the night.  Such an erotic text is a perfect match for the imagery of the Annunciation to the Virgin, when the Lord is revealed in all His glory. Songs could even have a practical use. The song Maria zart was reported to cure syphilis if sung a certain number of times: the same number of times the melody appears in Jacob Obrecht’s Missa Maria zart.


Finally, the songs of the fifteenth century are, as Howard Mayer Brown wrote, “exquisite miniatures”, finely crafted, with kaleidoscopic turns of phrase, jazzy syncopations, deceptive elisions, and brilliant explorations of just how many permutations a single melodic pattern can yield. These are some of the most beautiful songs ever to be copied on a page, with melodies like autumn leaves that rise and never fall all the way to the ground, drifting across the pages and hearts of the fifteenth century, and somehow, despite the ephemeral nature of music, still capable of bringing a tear today. 


On Saturday, January 31, 2015, Adam Gilbert will be presenting a workshop for the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra entitled, Villain et Courtoise:  Rustic and Bawdy Songs Dressed in Courtly Finery. The workshop will explore how simple popular songs of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, often with bawdy lyrics, were transformed by the great composers of the day into elegant courtly love songs, sacred motets, and even Masses using the intricate polyphony of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.  For further information please see the announcement in our website .




The Board: President: Dana Wagner; Treasurer: LouAnn Hofmann; Recording Secretary: Helen Shamble; Membership: Chris Flake; Publicity: TBD; Graphics: Mary Ashley; Newsletter Editor: Mary Ann Field; Workshop Coordinator: Laura Gonsalves, Stuart Elliott; Hospitality: Judith Unsicker; Music Sales: Laura Gonsalves; Historian: vacant; Webmaster: Dan Chernikoff; Facilities Mgr: Grace Butler; Music Director: Fred Palmer; Assistant Music Director:Greta Haug-Hryciw. MPRO website:    





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