Group celebrates classical music with recorders

Tim Vincze, director, The Cincinnati Recorder Consort

Contact this contributing writer at

When people think about recorders, they remember their squeaky elementary school rehearsals.

However, one local group is taking the time-honored musical instrument back to its roots. It’s eight members, who hail from across southwest Ohio, perform classical pieces with an assortment of recorders.

“The instruments played by children in elementary school are usually plastic soprano recorders. Most of the instruments we use in the Cincinnati Recorder Consort are wooden,” explained Tim Vincze, director of the group, who also plays oboe, English horn and other modern woodwinds.

Vincze, who has led the consort for more than 20 years, tells more.

Q: How did The Cincinnati Recorder Consort begin?

A: The consort had its beginnings in the 1980s as a group of amateur Early Music enthusiasts who would get together once a week or so to sight read music. I joined the group in 1993 and was asked to be the leader in 1994.

Q: What is a recorder?

A: The recorder is what musicologists call a fipple flute, which means that the recorder uses a fixed windway to channel the player's breath into the instrument. In contrast, the player of the modern concert flute blows directly across a hole in the top of the instrument. The recorder is also different from the Irish tin whistle, even though it, too, is fipple flute.

The internal shape of the recorder is a cylindrical headjoint and then an inverted cone for the body, whereas the tin whistle is a simple cylinder throughout. These differences give the recorder a more focused and clear sound than either the modern flute or the tin whistle.

Q: Which recorders are used by the CRC?

A: The meaning of the word consort in music jargon is a group of like instruments built in different sizes being played together. In the CRC, we employ the full range of sizes of recorders from the four-inch garklein down to the 6 ½ foot contrabass.

In addition to the recorders, we use the harpsichord, the viola da gamba, the baroque flute, the cornamuse, and percussion to add color to the ensemble.

Q: What types of music does the CRC perform?

A: We perform instrumental music and arrangements of vocal music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Currently, we are doing about six performances per year, but we would like to do more in the future.

Q: What makes a recorder ensemble unique?

A: A small recorder consort is actually more akin to a classical chamber music ensemble than to the symphony orchestra, as generally we are playing only one person to a part. It is a historically legitimate vehicle for presenting music from the 15th – 18th centuries.

Q: What do you enjoy most?

A: In addition to my love for the music itself, I enjoy the challenge of selecting pieces and working with the members of the consort to bring the best out of the players and the pieces. The recorder may appear to be a simple instrument. It isn't. Performing challenging music in a consort of them requires great attention to detail.

Q: How can someone get involved?

A: At this point, I am thinking about the future of the group. To that end I am looking for one or two talented younger players to audition. Being able to also play flute, oboe, violin, viola or harpsichord is a plus. We can be contacted by way of the Cincinnati Recorder Consort Facebook page. Just send a message.

Q: Do you have any upcoming performances?

A: The Cincinnati Recorder Consort is playing at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, February 21, at noon as a part of the Early Music Festival sponsored by the Catacoustic Consort.