Cantabile Renaissance Band FAQ

What's a Renaissance Band?

It's like a recorder group, but with other instruments in addition to recorders. We have a wide range of early reed and brass instruments, and sometimes strings, including modern fiddles, cellos, and viols. We can also accomodate modern descendants of early wind instruments (e.g., modern flute, trombone). We also welcome singers.

What do you mean, "Renaissance"?

That most of the music we play will be Renaissance polyphony of some kind.

People learning to play non-recorder Renaissance wind instruments don't have anywhere to go play with people. There are lots of recorder and viol groups that just meet in people's living rooms and have fun, but nothing equivalent for loud winds.

So we play Renaissance music without a conductor. We play big band stuff like Gabrielli, but also the vocal and dance music, like Dowland and Susato. Players who wish to can try out improvisation and ornamentation styles.

Who can come?

The instrumentation for most renaissance music is not specified, and even where it was obviously written for voices or some particular instrumentation, it's obvious that that didn't stop other instruments from using it.

So we're going to welcome anybody who's interested in this repertoire on any instrument that they want to play with a group like this one.

Who shouldn't come?

If you only play recorders, you would probably be more comfortable joining a recorder group. But if you also sing, you'd probably enjoy our method of sightreading on instruments (including recorders), and then moving to the vocal version.

If you don't yet know the fingerings on your instrument, you should spend some time practicing them first, so that you aren't asking the people you play with to watch you look at fingering charts.

If the instrument you play is designed for playing in modern concert halls, and you don't have the control over the dynamics to balance the more intimate quality of the Renaissance instruments, you should probably join a modern band. In other words, musically, I'd rather play with a good clarinet player than a squawky shawm player, but part of the point of this group is to give the squawky shawm player a place to improve, and there are lots of other groups designed for the squawky clarinet player.

If you don't read music easily, you'll probably not be comfortable with the amount of sightreading difficult music we do.

This group concentrates on polyphonic music that was written for people who thought of their part as a solo part. So even though we can't guarantee that you will always be alone on your part, we also prefer to play with people who are comfortable being alone on a part. So if you're looking for a group where you will be able to depend on someone else to learn your part, you should look elsewhere.

So how do I join?

Show up at a drop-in meeting. When we aren't performing, this is most Tuesday evenings, but check the blog for specific schedules. If we're rehearsing for a performance, meetings are restricted to the people who have committed to doing that performance.

If you decide you want to be kept informed about what we're doing, you should join the mailing list. In theory, people without email could keep in touch by phone and snail-mail, but it doesn't seem to ever really happen.

Great, how do I help, and what should I bring?

Send copies of this notice, or this flyer, to anyone else you think might be interested.

If you're going to a concert, dance event, or workshop that might have people who would be interested in this, print out, or let me give you some flyers to take.

After rehearsals, we typically spend some time eating and drinking together, so any contribution to the refreshments is welcome.

If you have music you've been dying to play with a group like this, bring 8 or 10 copies of it. I'd appreciate being told in advance about it.

Do you perform?

Yes, we've been performing several times a year. We play every year at the Project Bread Walk for Hunger, at a beautiful spot on the banks of the Charles River. ((See pictures.) We often perform at the picnics of the Boston Wort Processors picnics. We have also played at theaters and art galleries. We performed on the Loring Greenough House concert series in March of 2008 and the Boston Public Library Never too late series in December of 2007.

If you know of an event that should have Renaissance music, let me know.