Editor's Note: Greg Ingles, the director of MPRO's January 23, 2016 workshop, wrote the following essay for use in our workshop publicity.  The workshop will feature music performed in the streets, courts and churches of 16th-century Venice.  Music will include works by Adriano Willaert, Cipriano de Rore as well as Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli. The registration flyer for the workshop is available at

Rising majestically out of a northern Mediterranean lagoon, the Italian

city of Venice with its many bridge-covered labyrinthine canals traversed by

gondolieri seems almost mystical. The city itself was at the height of its

power in medieval times and continued as an influential economic state

through the late renaissance. One byproduct of the Venice Republic’s

economic trade dominance was its emergence as a capital of publishing.

Many of the major music treatises of the renaissance were published here,

which led to the collection and dissemination of works by numerous great


The burgeoning list of madrigal part-books published in Venice implies an unending thirst for new popular music. Venice had a large craving for secular music and its famed street singers, with their daily commentary and satire on local news and events had dual roles of entertainment and education. There, the madrigal evolved from the tightly compact and vibrant songs of Adriano Willaert to the dramatically expressive and richly text-painted works of Giaches de Wert and Claudio Monteverdi.

The music of the Doge’s ducal court was not to be outdone either,

employing the widely popular instrumental ensemble, the Piffari della Doge.

This professional wind ensemble gave an hour-long concert each day, played

music from the campanile tower to mark the hours and also marched in

procession in front of the Doge during Venice’s many Feast Day

celebrations. These musicians were also employed as a dance band for the

Doge, and the musicians of the Piffari were able to play many different

instruments, suiting the indoor or outdoor venue of the event as needed.

Possibly the most “praise worthy” legacy of all is the sacred music

written by the many illustrious composers who worked at the Basilica of

Saint Mark. The large-scale motets by Cipriano de Rore, Adriano Willaert

and Andrea Gabrieli led directly to the development of the Venetian

polychoral style, most triumphantly seen in the music of Giovanni Gabrieli.











Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,Here are some of the highlights for the second half of the orchestra's 2015-2016 season:  MPRO’s spring concert has been tentatively set for Saturday, May 7 in San Carlos.  This date and location will be confirmed in early January.  On Saturday, January 23, Greg Ingles will be directing a workshop for MPRO.  You will find details about the workshop in this issue of Upbeat.  Greg Ingles’ extensive knowledge of early brass music allows him to bring a special perspective to the repertoire for recorders and other soft instruments from the Renaissance and early Baroque, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to gain from his valuable and stimulating insights into performing the music from these periods.  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 20 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 2015-2016 season will include the exciting canzona, La Spiritata, by Giovanni Gabrieli, the suite, La Joie, by Telemann, originally written for a band of baroque winds, as well as the following music from the first half of the season:  Wolkenstein,  Ave Mater, O Maria; Sousa, The Liberty Bell March; Bach, Bourrée I and II from the Orchestral Suite No. 4 and the anonymous saltarello, El Picardo.

Listed below is the music for the orchestra's first three meetings of the New Year.  Please note that sopranino recorder and bassoon will be needed at all three meetings, great bass and contrabass recorders on January 6 and February 3 and krummhorns on January 20.

January 6

Gabrieli:  La Spiritata

Telemann:  La Joie

Wolkenstein:  Ave Mater, O Maria

Sousa:  The Liberty Bell March

January 20

Gabrieli:  La Spiritata

Anonymous:  El Picardo

Bach:  Bourrée I and II

Telemann:  La Joie

February 3

Gabrieli:  La Spiritata

Telemann:  La Joie

Wolkenstein:  Ave Mater, O Maria

Sousa:  The Liberty Bell March

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.


Fred Palmer

LINKS TO RECORDINGS OF MPRO’S NEW (JANUARY 2016) MUSIC    Gabrieli,  "La Spiritata"   Telemann, “La Joie” suite.  Click on the "Show More" link under the video screen to access links (blue numbers) to individual pieces.


Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks and drawings include conceptual plans for an apparatus that combines the characteristics of bowed string and keyboard instruments. There is no evidence that it was actually built during his lifetime. There are a few later examples of similar instruments; C. P. E. Bach composed a sonata for the 18th century "Bogeclavier" or bowed string piano.  Between 2009 and 2012 Polish pianist and instrument maker Slawomir Zubrzycki built a "viola organista" reflecting his interpretation of Leonardo's plans.  It includes four horsehair-covered wheels that rotate in response to foot pedals. The keyboard lowers individual strings onto the wheels, where contact with one of the horsehair "bows" sounds the pitch of the string. Zubrzycki's webpage at: summarizes the background of his instrument and the reasons for his choice of a repertoire for concert performances. The page includes a link to a YouTube video recording of the public debut performance. The recording is about 10 minutes long and includes several pieces; you can click on different parts of the track if you don't have time to listen to the whole thing. Wikipedia provides a more technical discussion and shows how the viola organista differs from the medieval/Renaissance hurdy-gurdy  [See this spot for more musical trivia in the next issue.  Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to MPRO members and friends!

-Judith Unsicker]

The Board: President: Judith Unsicker; Treasurer: LouAnn Hofmann; Recording Secretary: Helen Shamble; Membership: Chris Flake; Publicity: vacant; Graphics: Mary Ashley; Newsletter Editor: vacant; Workshop Coordinator: vacant; 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:     


◆    ◆    ◆    ◆    ◆    ◆    ◆    ◆    ◆    ◆


Past Months