Concert DVDs.  Every year the video technician at Grace Lutheran Church produces professionally edited DVDs of MPRO’s holiday concerts.  The DVDs will be broadcast several times a day during late December over cable TV channels serving the Palo Alto area.  For non-residents of, the broadcasts will also be accessible online as streaming videos.  See:   This year the concert video will also be available on YouTube; try searching at for “Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra.” Copies of the DVD will be available for purchase at January rehearsals, while they last.

January 23 Rehearsal.   We are still scheduled to hold the January 23 rehearsal in the Trinity Church chapel rather than our usual rehearsal room, due to use of that room for another event.  If the conflicting event is canceled, Trinity staff will contact us, and MPRO members will be notified by email. Assuming that we will need to use the chapel, members should plan to come early to find parking, and bring music stand lights if they have them.

MPRO Workshop. On Saturday, February 9, Frances Blaker will be presenting a workshop for the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra entitled, From Old to New.  An In-depth Study of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Music for Recorders, Focusing on a Representative Selection from Each Period.   The following pages include an essay by Ms. Blaker on the workshop theme, and a copy of the registration flyer. The flyer and a map of the workshop location are also available on MPRO’s website at

-Judith Unsicker



Frances Blaker

        The recorder has one of the most extensive repertoires of any instrument played today, going back to at least the late 13th century, and probably earlier, all the way up to the present day with only a 150-year gap from around 1750 to 1900 when the instrument lay dormant.  Music for recorders spans four periods:  medieval, up to between 1400 and 1450; renaissance, from between 1400 and 1450 to around 1600; baroque, from around 1600 to around 1750 and modern, from around 1900 on.  Each of these periods has its own musical style, aesthetics, compositional procedures, melodic and harmonic progressions as well as tuning systems and each is under the broad influence of very different philosophies:  scholasticism, humanism, the Enlightenment and the multiplicity of philosophies that have influenced our thinking over the past one hundred years or so.  In order for recorder players to competently manage such a diverse body of music means that they must have at least a general idea of what distinguishes one period from another and how that translates into their playing.  That will be the goal of the workshop I am directing on February 9 in Palo Alto.  I will lead those attending through a day of musical exploration, focusing on a work from each of the four periods I mentioned.

We will take note of the main differences and similarities between pieces of different eras, enabling us to put other pieces of music into an historical context.  All the while, I will bring up points of recorder technique as we encounter them in the music I present, provide some useful hints and tips and work on musical expression. The large historical span will bring great variety to the selections we will be working on, from vocal to instrumental forms, from modes and counterpoint to tonal harmony and beyond. Some pieces will be easy to play, yet always absorbing and interesting, while others will be more challenging.  Some of the composers we are likely to meet are Hildegard von Bingen, Ciconia, Josquin, Parsons and Handel.

A Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra Workshop

From OLD To New

An In-depth Study of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Music for Recorders, Focusing on a Representative Selection from Each Period

Frances Blaker, Director

Saturday, February 9, 2019 — 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Grace Lutheran Church Chapel 3149 Waverley Street, Palo Alto

Frances Blaker is well known throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as an

accomplished recorder player, recording artist, music director, author and composer. She received her Music Pedagogical and Performance degrees from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen. In addition to regular appearances with Tibia, the Farallon Recorder Quartet, and Ensemble Vermillian, Frances Blaker has performed as a soloist and with various ensembles in the United States, Denmark, England and the Netherlands. She teaches privately and at workshops throughout the United States and is the Director of the Amherst Early Music Summer Festival.

The workshop is open to recorder players from the intermediate to advanced level.

For further information visit the MPRO website at: or contact Chantal Moser. Registration form below.

Registration Form: Advanced registration is encouraged as space is limited.

Workshop Fees: MPRO, SFEMS and ARS Members: $55.00; Non members: $60.00 Bring a music stand and a lunch. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

_____MPRO member _____SFEMS member _____ARS member _____Non member

The location of this workshop is wheelchair accessible.

Name___________________________________ Phone__________________ Email____________________________


MPRO is an Affiliate of the San Francisco Early Music Society




Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

Here are some of the highlights for the second half of the orchestra's 2018-2019 season:  MPRO’s spring concert has been tentatively set for the first weekend in May.  The exact date and location will be announced in January.  On Saturday, February 9,  Frances Blaker will be directing a workshop for MPRO.  You will find details about the workshop in this issue of Upbeat.  Frances Blaker is well known throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as an accomplished recorder player, recording artist, music director, author and composer, and the workshop topic she has chosen will be of interest to a wide range of recorder players who want to better understand the repertoire available for their instrument, hone their interpretive skills and playing technique as well as enjoy playing distinctive works from musical periods that span the past seven hundred years.


Music for the second half of the orchestra’s 2017-2018 season will include incidental music to A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream by Henry Purcell as well as my composition entitled, The Glass Elevator.  We will also be playing the following music from the first half of the current season:  Assez lent by Koechlin, Il estoit une fillette by Janequin and the anonymous O Maria, virgo divitica/O maria, maris stella/ Veritatem .  I am also pleased to announce that Irene Beardsley will be playing keyboard with the orchestra at its upcoming spring concert.

        Listed below is the music for the orchestra's first three meetings of the New Year.  Please note that contrabass recorders as well as bass viola da gamba and bassoon will be needed at all three meetings, great bass recorders on January 9 and January 30 and sopranino recorder and krummhorns on January 9.


January 9

Purcell:  Incidental Music to A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream

Janequin:  Il estoit une fillette

Anonymous:  O Maria, virgo davitica/O maria, maris stella/ Veritatem

Palmer:  The Glass Elevator

January 23

(This rehearsal is now scheduled to be held in the Trinity Church chapel. MPRO

members will be notified by email of any change.)

Purcell:  Incidental Music to A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream

Koechlin:  Assez lent

Palmer:  The Glass Elevator

January 30

Purcell:  Incidental Music to A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream

Anonymous:  O Maria, virgo divitica/O maria, maris stella/ Veritatem 

Palmer:  The Glass Elevator

        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


In January, MPRO will begin rehearsing incidental music for a masque or “semi-opera” by Henry Purcell, based on Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The masque, whose actual title is “The Fairy-Queen” was first produced in 1692 to mark the fifteenth wedding anniversary of King William II and Queen Mary II.  Shakespeare’s play was adpated for use as the libretto. The score was lost after Purcell’s death in 1695, and was not rediscovered until the early 20th century.  There have been a variety of modern productions of the opera.  For more background information and a synopsis of the scenes that are accompanied by music, see:

Searching at YouTube for “Purcell” and “Midsummer Night’s Dream” or “Fairy Queen” will lead you to video excerpts from modern productions of the “semi-opera.” (An uncut production takes about four hours.)  For instrumental music, search for “Purcell” and “Fairy Queen” and “incidental music.”  This is a link to a recording of the orchestral suite by Les Concert des Nations, directed by Jordi Savall:


The American Recorder Society’s online “New Music for Recorder” feature currently includes more than 100 pieces provided by modern composers. Logged-in ARS members can download scores and MP3 recordings; non-members can view previews and hear sound samples.  Among other things, the feature includes canons, tangos, holiday music, and pieces inspired by other composers and historic periods.  There is a short summary of the background for each piece. Intriguing descriptions include “The Mosquito’s Courtship”, a “frenetic duet for sopranino recorders” based on a piece by Villa-Lobos, and “Pavane and Galliard” based on the traditional Renaissance dance pair,  a.k.a  “Peacock Strut & Hen Hop.”  The music is available at:

The Board: President: Judith Unsicker; Treasurers: Chantal Moser and Mary Ashley; Recording Secretary: vacant; Membership: Chris Flake; Publicity: vacant; Graphics: Mary Ashley; Newsletter Editor: vacant; Workshop Coordinator: vacant; Hospitality: vacant; Music Sales: Laura Gonsalves; Historian: vacant; Webmaster: Dan Chernikoff;  Music Director: Fred Palmer; Assistant Music Director: Greta Haug-Hryciw.  MPRO website:      

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