The “world’s biggest recorder” is a subcontrabass in B-flat.  It is three meters (almost 10 feet) high, was made from a single tree, and cost 14,500 Euro (about $16,965 at the current exchange rate).  This English language video, featuring two members of the Dutch ensemble The Royal Wind Music, provides a close-up look at the instrument and an opportunity to hear it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3CsmeKU2vE.

The Royal Wind Music was founded by Paul Leenhouts (the director of MPRO’s 2014 workshop). It includes 13 players, originally from 7 different countries, who studied at the Amsterdam Conservatoire.  They play entirely from memory and without a conductor. The group specializes in music composed between 1520 and 1640, and plays 45 different recorders modeled on Renaissance examples in the Art History Museum in Vienna. More information about the ensemble is available at  www.royalwindmusic.org.  Look for the link to an English language version near the top of the page.  The “Media” page includes several sound recordings.

A variety of video recordings accessible through a YouTube search for “Royal Wind Music” illustrate the size of the subcontrabass in relation to other instruments. A recently posted video includes excerpts of different pieces from an educational concert titled “Around the World With The Royal Wind Music.”  In one of them, the subcontrabass serves as the center of a maypole dance.  See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oUxmhnXNrg.

-Judith Unsicker



Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,

Listed below is the music for the next three meetings of the orchestra.   Please note that there will be sectional seating for the Franck motet with those in Primus Chorus on the right as they face the conductor and those in Secundus Chorus on the left.  Please observe this seating arrangement when you choose your place at the beginning of the meetings on October 11 and November 8.  Please note as well that sopranino, great bass and contrabass recorders as well as krummhorns and bassoon will be needed at all three meetings.  Finally, everyone is asked to practice and become familiar with the scheduled music in preparation for these meetings.  Use of the midi files sent to the membership earlier is also encouraged.  

October 11

Franck:  Gloria Patri, qui creavit nos 

Encina:  Fata la parte, ¿Si abrá en este beldrés

Handel:  Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 1, final Allegro


October 25

Crecquillon:  Vidit Jacob Scalam

Evans:  Waltz for Debby

Ravenscroft:  Remember, Oh Thou Man

Encina:  Fata la parte, ¿Si abrá en este beldrés

Handel:  Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 1, final Allegro

November 8

Franck:  Gloria Patri, qui creavit nos 

Encina:  Fata la parte, ¿Si abrá en este beldrés

Handel:  Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 1, final Allegro

Crecquillon:  Vidit Jacob Scalam

Evans:  Waltz for Debby

        I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings.  


Fred Palmer


The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded annually by a scientific satire magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, at an elaborate Harvard University ceremony.  Most of the prizes are for real scientific studies with bizarre or amusing twists, “research that makes people laugh, then think.”  More information on the “Igs” is available at: https://www.improbable.com/ig/2017/.

The 2017 Ig Nobel Peace Prize went to a study showing that playing the digeridoo can reduce snoring and sleep disturbance of the players’ partners. Snoring is associated with moderate obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous medical condition resulting from the collapse of muscles in the upper airway.  Playing the digeridoo trains and reduces the collapsibility of these muscles.  The study was a test of informal observations by a digeridoo teacher and his students. This is a link to the paper published in a peer-reviewed British medical journal: http://www.bmj.com/content/332/7536/266?ref=driverlayer.com

Playing the digeridoo requires “circular breathing,” which is routinely used in playing many wind instruments, and can be used with the recorder.  This is a “how to” video on circular breathing by Sarah Jeffery of the The Royal Wind Music recorder ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZyEpu5rqX0.  It is part of a series on the “Team Recorder” YouTube channel that also includes the video on the subcontrabass recorder referenced above.  -Judith Unsicker


MPRO’s repertoire for the 2017-2018 season includes a recorder arrangement of Bill Evans’ 1961 jazz piece, Waltz for Debby.  Two “completely different” recordings may be useful for understanding our individual parts.  This one begins with a piano solo and morphs into a Big Band-style arrangement for a saxophone ensemble and chamber orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGhfHhDNBWo.  This arrangement for a string quartet includes some interesting pizzicato toward the end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7xTidDeVV8.


“All the news that fits, we print.” The source of this quote is obscure, but it has been attributed to a MAD Magazine parody of the New York Times’ slogan.  At any rate, MPRO members are always welcome to submit announcements or articles for inclusion in Upbeat.  

Officers. MPRO still needs volunteer officers, including an official Newsletter Editor.  Thanks to new member Dennis Granahan who volunteered to be Hospitality Chair, and to Mary Ashley who agreed to take on part of the Treasurer’s duties.  Mary would like to share the job with someone else.  Please contact me at judith.unsicker@gmail.com if you are interested in being an officer or have any questions.

-Judith Unsicker.

The Board: President: Judith Unsicker; Treasurer: Mary Ashley; Recording Secretary: vacant; Membership: Chris Flake; Publicity: vacant; Graphics: Mary Ashley; Newsletter Editor: vacant; Workshop Coordinator: vacant; Hospitality: Dennis Granahan; Music Sales: Laura Gonsalves; Historian: vacant; Webmaster: Dan Chernikoff;  Music Director: Fred Palmer; Assistant Music Director: Greta Haug-Hryciw.  MPRO website: http://www.mpro-online.org      

Past Months