|(L-R): Joan Kimball, Priscilla Herreid, Bob Wiemken in performance.|
In 1980, the ensemble began as a local effort to explore the then largely unknown world of Renaissance double-reed instruments and to create performing opportunities for early wind players in the Philadelphia region. In the ensuing 40 years of Kimball and Wiemken’s leadership, Piffaro has become a highly regarded ensemble in the expanding field of early music, both in this country and abroad. In addition to its annual concert series in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Piffaro has toured throughout North America and performed at major early music festivals in Europe and South America.
In addition to extensive concertizing, Kimball and Wiemken worked closely with instrument makers to build an unsurpassed collection of over 60 instruments modeled on their historical antecedents. They have unearthed long-overlooked instrumental works from the late 15th to early 17th Centuries and added them to the canon through Piffaro’s 20 recordings.
Kimball and Wiemken approached retirement thoughtfully, beginning with the question, “Should Piffaro continue?” The answer, especially from the ensemble’s musicians, was a resounding “yes!” Erik Schmalz, one of the group’s two historical brass specialists, noted: “It would be a shame to let everything that you’ve built just go away...Almost nobody else is doing the music that Piffaro does or playing those instruments.”
After a two-year selection process and transition strategy, Piffaro’s board of directors announced the appointment of Priscilla Herreid as artistic director designate.
Herreid has been a member of the ensemble since 2007. A graduate of Temple University and Juilliard, she enjoys a thriving career performing with top early music ensembles in the United States, but Piffaro has always been at the center of her professional life. Herreid will assume her new role at the beginning of the 2022-2023 concert season.
Piffaro, now “widely regarded as North America's masters of music for Renaissance wind band” (St. Paul Pioneer Press), was founded in 1980 to recreate the rustic music of the peasantry and the elegant sounds of the professional wind bands of the late Medieval and Renaissance periods. Piffaro inaugurated its Delaware Valley concert series in 1985.