Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Piffaro Artistic Directors Announce Retirement

Content of this post comes from a press release from Piffaro...

(L-R): Joan Kimball, Priscilla Herreid, Bob Wiemken in performance.
Joan Kimball and Bob Wiemken – Artistic Co-Directors of the Philadelphia-based period music ensemble Piffaro, the Renaissance Band – will retire from directing and performing with the ensemble. Kimball and Wiemken will step down at the end of the ensemble’s 2021-2022 season and turn over leadership to Priscilla Herreid, a longtime member of the ensemble.

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. 

"The best choice for the ensemble would be...Someone who could maintain the distinctive Piffaro sound and continue to pursue its mission, yet also guide it into new ventures." said Kimball and Wiemken. "Priscilla was the clear choice. She has our full support, as well as that of the band and the board of directors."

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.

About Piffaro
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.

Monday, May 31, 2021

TAHIRA Recognized by NJ Governor; Nominated Best Collaboration for "Freedom Call"

This post content comes from a press release from TAHIRA...

Storyteller, musician, and arts administrator, TAHIRA has been recognized by the state of New Jersey and Delaware Hometown Heroes for her talents as a performer. She recently received the New Jersey Governor's Award for Distinguished Service in Arts Education. The artist, whose works are rooted in African Diaspora culture and tradition, has also been given the nod for her single, Freedom Call, nominated for Best Collaboration by Delaware Hometown Heroes.

The New Jersey Governor's Award provides a public forum for the Governor and Commissioner of Education to recognize students and adult leaders for their achievements in Arts Education. On receiving the award, TAHIRA stated, "My great joy is seeing how storytelling sparks the imagination and nurtures all parts of the human experience. This award affirms for me that my work as an artist and arts advocate is valued."

Freedom Call is an anthemic song written by TAHIRA and executive produced by Darnell K. Miller of HP Entertainment. This single made its way into the hearts and minds of many impacted by the protests and uprisings calling for racial equity. The song that gives light to Juneteenth or Freedom Day's events was performed by the Delaware Artists for Change, which includes some of the state's most soulful vocalists.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, 2021, marks the 156th year since slavery was abolished in Galveston, Texas. The holiday is a celebration of freedom for the Black community, and it is momentous that the song is nominated on the heels of this event.

TAHIRA, who is best recognized for her work as a professional storyteller nationally, has proven her talent as a songwriter with Freedom Call. Her musicianship has been described as "...spiritually infused with karmic joy..." by Delaware music venue owner Esther Lovlie. 

TAHIRA is a storyteller, musician, vocalist, and songwriter and is a Delaware Division of the Arts Established Professional Fellow in Folk Art: Oral Literature.

Check out a preview of the track, which also features a number celebrated Delaware artists...

For more information on TAHIRA and her work, visit https://www.tahiraproductions.com.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Congratulations to The 2021 Clifford Brown Jazz Award Winners

The content of this post comes from a press release from the City of Wilmington...

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Cultural Affairs Director Tina Betz congratulated the winners of the 2021 Clifford Brown Jazz Awards presented at Cityfest, Inc.’s inaugural Clifford Brown International Jazz Day Concert on Friday, April 30, 2021. 

This year’s awardee for the Clifford Brown Top Jazz Presenter Award is the True Blue Jazz Festival; of the Clifford Brown Advocacy, Volunteerism, & Philanthropy in Jazz Award is Hortense Priest (bestowed posthumously); for the Clifford Brown Young & Swingin’ Award is Maya Belardo; and for the Clifford Brown Legacy Award is Tony “Big Cat” Smith

The Clifford Brown Festival Band, led by Gerald Chavis.
Photo by Moonloop Photography.
The awards ceremony and concert, held virtually and in person at the Delaware Theater Company, featured performances by trumpeter Terell Stafford and the Clifford Brown Festival Band led by Gerald Chavis as part of the City of Wilmington’s International Jazz Day Festivities.

“We believe that music and the arts are extremely important contributors to recovering from the personal, artistic, and economic pandemic-related stressors of this past year,” said Betz. “With that and the continuing loosening of COVID restrictions in mind, we are planning to return to Rodney Square on August 4-8, 2021 for the 34th Annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. It is important to note that the dates are subject to change or the Festival cancelled in response to changing State public health mandates.”

Clifford Brown Year Round is presented by Cityfest, Inc. and the City of Wilmington with generous support from The Delaware Theatre Company, The Delaware Division of the Arts, WRTI 90.1 FM, The Kenny Family Foundation, Delmarva Power, An Excelon Company, Gerald Chavis Music, Flux Creative Consulting, The Christina Cultural Arts Center, and The Delaware Contemporary.

Proceeds from the Clifford Brown Year Round series support programs like the Urban Artist Exchange, the Arts Work Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program, and the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival.