February Rehearsals. MPRO’s February rehearsals will be back to back on February 20 and 27, with a three week gap following the last (January 30) rehearsal. Fred Palmer has a conflict for the originally planned February 13 date.

Play the Recorder Month. The American Recorder Society has designated March as its annual  “Play the Recorder Month” and March 16 as “Play the Recorder Day.” The ARS encourages its members and affiliates to play recorders in public places such as libraries, bookstores, museums and shopping malls, and to demonstrate the recorder in school settings. The specially published piece for this year’s commemoration is “Fantasia on Faithless Nancy Dawson" for SATB recorders by Phil Neuman, the co-director of the Oregon Renaissance Band.  Nancy Dawson was the stage name of English actress Ann Newton (1728-1767) who became famous for dancing a hornpipe in the 1759 revival of The Beggar’s Opera. Neuman’s “Fantasia” is based on a sea chantey also known as “A-Rovin”, and is set in a dance tempo.  Sheet music is available online to ARS members who log in at: https://americanrecorder.org/.

SFEMS Summer Workshops. Registration is now open for the San Francisco Early Music Society’s annual summer workshops in June and July. Locations will include Oakland, Berkeley, and Rohnert Park.  There will be two week-long workshops for recorders, and separate week-long workshops for mixed instruments that focus on Medieval/Renaissance, Baroque and Classical music, respectively. The SFEMS programs will also include a Musical Discovery Workshop/Youth Collegium.  For more information, see:  http://sfems.org/?page_id=228

-Judith Unsicker



Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

        Listed below is the music for the orchestra's next three meetings. 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 February 20 and March 13 and sopranino recorder and krummhorns on February 20.

February 20

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

February 27

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

Koechlin: Assez lent

Palmer: The Glass Elevator

March 13

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

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

Palmer: The Glass Elevator

I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings.


Fred Palmer


MPRO recently lost two honorary members who had been involved with

the orchestra since the 1960s. Sid Simon died October 26, 2018 at the age of 101.

He was made an honorary member on the occasion of his 100th birthday in 2017.

This is a link to his obituary: https://www.paloaltoonline.com/obituaries/memorials/sidney-simon?o=5696.

Angela Owen joined the recorder group that became MPRO in 1962. She succeeded founder Bill Barnhart and served as music director and president of MPRO from 1967 to 1987. Angela was born in Germany and received a doctorate in musicology from Boston University in 1955.  More biographical information is available in this 1995 interview from the San Francisco Chronicle: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Recorder-Orchestra-is-worthy-of-note-3122088.php.  For more information on Angela’s importance to MPRO, see Fred Palmer’s “Detailed History” at: http://www.mpro-online.org/DetailedHistory.htm.  

This is a link to a recording of Angela, Sid and Bill Barnhart playing recorders during a 1967 performance of Benjamin Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde:  http://estherlederberg.com/NOAH_ARK2.html.  (The opera is based on a medieval mystery play that tells the story of Noah’s Ark.)


The last issue of Upbeat included a link to a long recording of the orchestral suite from Purcell’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Following are links to recordings (by a different ensemble) of the individual pieces that MPRO is rehearsing.  The recording of the Entry Dance illustrates the precision that Fred Palmer is looking for.

Entry Dance  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsfDlk37vhY

Air https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uImYezx_WtI

Rondeau https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BLJRpLEhho

Hornpipe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ovdc7KFkd00

-Judith Unsicker


 Do you have perfect pitch?  Only about one out of 10,000 people has it. Learning appears to have a role in developing perfect pitch; for example, it is more common in Asian countries where tonal languages are spoken. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_pitch. Genetics may also be involved.  A recent study shows that the size, stiffness and distribution of tiny pores in a gelatinous membrane in the inner ear affect the ability to detect different frequencies of sound.  For more information and an animated diagram showing how the membrane works, see this link: https://phys.org/news/2019-01-mechanism-ear-exquisite-sensitivity.html.

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: http://www.mpro-online.org      

Past Months' Issues

MPRO Archives:  http://www.mpro-online.org/MPROArchives.htm