Together for the Very First Time

by Anne Schuster Hunter

Tempesta di Mare and Piffaro. They’re both world famous. Their offices are one mile away from each other. Artistic directors Joan Kimball and Robert Wiemken of Piffaro and Gwyn Roberts and Richard Stone of Tempesta di Mare are old friends. Tempesta people play with Piffaro. Piffaro people play with Tempesta. And they all continually play shoulder-to-shoulder in other peoples’ bands and orchestra pits.

But before this December and their Christmas in Germany show, the two groups—Tempesta di Mare and Piffaro—have never played together.

Basically, it’s chronology that has riven them thusfar asunder. Piffaro plays music written before 1600 (more of less). Tempesta plays music written after 1600 (more or less). But this year’s holiday miracle, Christmas in Germany, falls into the sweet spot around the year 1600 that includes both.

So this is a rare opportunity to catch something great.

Seriously. Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra Tempesta di Mare and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, have provided a huge contribution to the culture of European music. Between them, they’ve produced 27 commercially released cds, thousands of hours of radio broadcasts, scores of tours, scores of world premieres and pioneering work in understanding and performing four centuries of music. Because of them, Philadelphia is a big bright star on the world map of early music.

That’s why at 396 years and 4,000 miles away from 1619 Dresden, Philadelphia is one of the best places in the world to hear Schütz, Scheidt, and Praetorius. If not the best.

The sweet spot may not come around again for a while. Enjoy it while you can!




Anne Schuster Hunter is a writer and art historian living in Philadelphia. She leads a creative writing workshop at Temple University Center City.