Sharon Cheney is proud to say she's been in the same class for 24 years. Since 1987, she's been heading down to the Community Music Center in SE Portland on Wednesday nights for their Renaissance Wind Band classes taught by Phil Neuman, a world-renowned expert on medieval instruments and "early" music.
So why does Cheney keep coming back? She and her equally dedicated classmates say there are two main reasons. First, they've fallen in love with Renaissance music and the rather unusual early wind instruments they get to play — the the sackbut, cornamuse, douçaine, rackett — some of which date back as far as 1250 (AD).
And there is a lot to learn. Most of the students play multiple instruments and pick up more the longer they are in the class. After about 10 years of working her way through recorders, Cheney finally gave the great bass rackett a try, which sent her off on another musical journey. "Now I'm an instrument junkie," she says.
The students also relish the opportunity to play with and learn from Phil Neuman, whose kind and gentle teaching style and vast knowledge of the music sets the tone for the class.
"It's an opportunity to sit at the feet of a master," says student Elizabeth Christina. "Phil finds and arranges all of the pieces for the class. It's beautiful music that wouldn't be heard anyplace else."
More to Explore
- Oregon Art Beat: Musicians De Organographia: a profile of Phil and Gayle Neuman who specialize in performing music using detailed replicas of early instruments which they build themselves.
- Community Music Center, Portland, OR: an organization providing classes, lessons & events, including the Renaissance Wind Band class.
This video was shot and edited by Tom Shrider.
- Musicians De Organographia Oregon Art Beat