A somewhat subdued season. September marks the beginning of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra's (MPRO's) 58th season. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, it is unlikely that we will be able to hold in-person rehearsals this fall, or a holiday concert or a winter workshop. Our church venues are closed for the foreseeable future, and there are continuing state and county restrictions on non-essential travel and on the sizes of permitted gatherings.  Other recorder groups and early music organizations are addressing the pandemic in different ways. As noted in Fred Palmer’s column, MPRO's Board of Directors is considering the possibility of virtual meetings. Meanwhile, the American Recorder Society has a variety of online resources in an article titled: "Playing it Safe: Social Distancing for Recorder Players.”  See:

Dues. The September issue of Upbeat usually includes a "dues are due" notice.  The Board has decided to postpone collecting dues until we have a definite agenda for the season. Members will be notified by email.

Newsletter.  As Acting Newsletter Editor, I will continue to produce a monthly issue of Upbeat for email distribution and web posting at I encourage MPRO members to submit announcements, articles, web links, and ideas for "music trivia" items to my personal email address,  - -Judith Unsicker


East Bay Recorder Society Workshop. The EBRS will hold a special 1.5 hour virtual workshop with Shira Kammen beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 24, 2020. The theme is "Early Music Between the Worlds.” The registration flyer is available at:

The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival has a free online concert series available through several media including its website, a local community television station, and Facebook. The next program is "Roots of Bach and Telemann [pt. 2]-Virtual Ensemble” presented by Claudia Gantivar. It will be available at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday September 19 through all three media, and at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 20 through Facebook only. See  for links to each concert.

The San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) is planning virtual events for this fall but has not yet published a schedule.  Check for updates at the Society’s main website,, or subscribe to the free weekly newsletter using the “e-News Signup” link at the top of the page.



Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

        These are not normal times, but I believe it is necessary for MPRO to continue its usual activities as much as possible while the current health emergency exists.  I would therefore suggest that the orchestra continue to issue a newsletter on a regular basis, preferably monthly, continue to work on selected music for future concerts, even if it is unclear when these performances would take place, continue to send its members new musical selections that they can work on and look into the feasibility of holding virtual meetings as other recorder organizations have done recently.


I have listed below the music I sent to the orchestra’s membership for the second half of the 2019-2020 season.  Please continue to work on these selections along with, if possible, the accompanying midi files.  I will also be sending out a new piece for you to work on soon along with a midi practice file and will continue to provide you with new selections on a regular basis.  All of this music is intended for MPRO concerts when live performances by the orchestra are possible again.  If you would like to work on material from previous seasons, Diana Fischer has suggested playing along with MPRO’s concerts recorded on DVD.  If you do not have the DVDs, selections from many of the concerts are available on YouTube where they can be accessed directly or from links on the MPRO web site.  You can also find recordings of the complete 2018 and 2019 holiday concerts using the following links:

If you need the music for any of the selections from past seasons please contact me and I will send it to you.  Also, if you have any ideas about staying musically active during the current pandemic or know what others are doing in this regard, please consider sending that information to Judith Unsicker for inclusion in Upbeat so that it can be shared with those who receive the orchestra’s newsletter.

        Some members of the orchestra have requested that midi practice files be available in mp3 format.  Ray White has agreed to provide mp3 practice files to those who request them after the midi files with instructions have been sent out.  All of the music scheduled for the second half of the orchestra’s 2019-2020 season will be available in mp3 format as well as any new music sent out subsequently.  If you would like mp3 files in place of midi files please contact Ray at .  Ray has also volunteered to host virtual MPRO meetings on Zoom.  I will be contacting the MPRO membership this month to determine how much interest there would be in holding virtual meetings and explain exactly what can and cannot be done using Zoom.  If enough members find Zoom meetings worthwhile then Ray and I will start making plans to begin holding them.  I want to thank Ray for offering his help with providing mp3 files to the MPRO membership as well as hosting potential virtual meetings of the orchestra.


Here is the list of music I would like you to continue working on.

Anonymous:  Rex

orelli:  Sonata Op. 4

Dufay:  Quel fronte signorille

Grieg:  The Last Spring

Josquin:  Mille regretz

Mesomedes:  Hymn to the Sun

Mozart:  Ave Verum

Schein:  Suite No. 15

Susato: Pavane Bittre Reue

        I am sure we are all looking forward to the day when the current state of affairs is behind us and we can make music together once again.  Best wishes, take care and stay well.  -Sincerely, Fred Palmer


Problems with Zoom.  During the pandemic, Zoom is probably the most widely used program for virtual meetings and online education. It was developed for business meetings and has a number of limits for use by musicians. First, there is a built-in feature to cancel “background noise” that effectively prohibits more than one person from speaking (or playing an instrument) at the same time. Second, there are problems with “latency” from a mismatch between audio and visual signals. Third, compression of the audio signal reduces tonal quality.  Players participating in a virtual Zoom music session will not be able to hear each other, and from an audio standpoint, the experience may not be as satisfactory as playing along with a MIDI or MP3 recording. You may have seen videos of “virtual concerts.”  This link includes video clips from a variety of concerts worldwide:  These performers were not playing together. Individual performers recorded themselves and sent files to a central technician who used music editing software to combine them.

MIDI vs. MP3 files: what’s the difference? An internet search with this question yields lots of results with more or less technical answers. The following address is a website for music teachers, with relatively simple explanations comparing the advantages and disadvantages of MIDI vs. audio recordings like MP3.

Basically, MP3 files are compressed audio recordings of actual musical performances. MIDI files are instructions to a computer for the production of synthetic sound. They have been compared to the "music rolls" for old-fashioned player pianos. MIDIs can be separated into tracks for different "instruments" and edited; MP3 files cannot. For MPRO users, MIDI files can be played with "karaoke" software that allows you to separate the tracks for different instruments and mute or unmute individual tracks. You can listen to your part and play along with it, or mute your part and play along with all other parts.  Playing along with an MP3 recording would require you to accompany the entire orchestra, unless you have a recording of an individual part.

Virus transmission, social distancing, and wind instruments.  There is scientific evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted as an aerosol (very fine particles) to a greater distance than the 6 feet currently recommended for social distancing. This article from a British medical journal summarizes the evidence and the background for the 6 foot distance:

Social distancing is a concern in the ongoing controversy about reopening schools. An international  consortium of performing arts organizations, including high school band and chorus teachers, is sponsoring a university study on aerosol virus transmission through singing and different types of wind instruments.  The study (which is not using live virus) is also looking at potential mitigation measures including social distancing, masks, and bell covers for brass instruments. A summary of the second round of preliminary results is available at:  It is interesting to note the difference in aerosol production between the flute and oboe. This might also apply to recorders vs. reed instruments such as krummhorns.


MPRO is rehearsing an ancient Hymn to Apollo composed for the Greco-Roman water organ or hydraulis, which used water pressure to force air through organ pipes to produce sounds. The same principle has been used to construct "sea organs" or “wave organs” that use pressure from incoming waves to produce sounds in onshore pipes. The most famous sea organ, designed by an architect, is located at Zadar, Croatia, where it has become a tourist attraction. This video includes a good sound recording: There are a few other sea organs worldwide, including a less musical version at the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco, created by artists from the Exploratorium. This link explains the background: This is a recording: Other online information indicates that the organ sounds best at high tide.-Judith Unsicker

The Board: President: Judith Unsicker; Treasurers: Chantal Moser and Mary Ashley; Recording Secretary: vacant; Membership: Chris Flake and Tom Granvold; 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.  MPRO website:   


Past Months' Issues: