A collection of fourteen short films:

Directed by Bert Shapiro

Three hours of film!

Films

“At Home with The Baltimore Consort”

The Baltimore Consort is perhaps the best balancing act of period authenticity, instrumental precision and sheer fun in the music community. Meet the lute and Ronn McFarlane, one of today’s most articulate and brilliant performers. A delightful performance of pop music from Shakespeare’s time.

Run Time – 18 minutes

 

“At Home with The Baltimore Consort”

The Baltimore Consort is perhaps the best balancing act of period authenticity, instrumental precision and sheer fun in the music community. Meet the lute and Ronn McFarlane, one of today’s most articulate and brilliant performers. A delightful performance of pop music from Shakespeare’s time.

Run Time – 18 minutes

 

“Music is not made in a vacuum, it’s made by people who live in a time and place and culture, and it was wonderful to see these musicians brings alive early music and instruments in the 21st century.”

Review from August Denhard, Executive Director — Early Music Seattle

This short film on The Baltimore Consort captures some of the essential truths that motivate the arts, many which are overlooked by our highly commercialized entertainment industry. 

The story of Ronn MacFarlane’s passion for the lute, from its early awakening through rock music to his development as a virtuoso performer and composer, is told with love and insight. The framework for how music is developed and sustained over time – through friendships and collaborations – is also an important theme and is illustrated by the Consort’s live

performances and the joy they take in bringing Renaissance music to our 21 st century lives. 

The greater message – music is essential to all ages – can’t be missed.

“Introducing the Guzheng”

Connect with Bree Zhang as she seeks to find identity and heritage through traditional Chinese music performed on a rarely seen string instrument. For this young musician, history and culture is just as important as the music itself.

Run Time – 14 minutes

 

“Introducing the Guzheng”

Connect with Bree Zhang as she seeks to find identity and heritage through traditional Chinese music performed on a rarely seen string instrument. For this young musician, history and culture is just as important as the music itself.

Run Time – 14 minutes

 

 
“The way that I perform my music, it’s opening up my entire being so that people can understand the music they are hearing, I can immerse myself in my music and feel free.”

“The Man & the Music Behind the Mask”

Carlos Fittante, the man behind the mask, delights in telling his story through the music that moves his body. Truly a consummate performer with a burning passion for dance. “it’s something greater than oneself…the sublime and the ordinary intertwined, it’s so wonderful”

Run Time – 11 minutes

“The Man & the Music Behind the Mask”

Carlos Fittante, the man behind the mask, delights in telling his story through the music that moves his body. Truly a consummate performer with a burning passion for dance. “it’s something greater than oneself…the sublime and the ordinary intertwined, it’s so wonderful”

Run Time – 11 minutes

 
“It’s something else, greater than oneself…the sublime and the ordinary are intertwined. I love this, it’s so wonderful.”

“The Sounds of Today”

Elliott Sharp, a renowned American maverick composer and avant-garde guitarist, is on a journey of musical discovery. His sound: raw, riveting and utterly unique. This short documentary captures Elliott’s restless nature and exhausting experimentation just right. Whether you like Elliott’s music or not, you’ll get inspired.

Run Time – 13 minutes

“The Sounds of Today”

Elliott Sharp, a renowned American maverick composer and avant-garde guitarist, is on a journey of musical discovery. His sound: raw, riveting and utterly unique. This short documentary captures Elliott’s restless nature and exhausting experimentation just right. Whether you like Elliott’s music or not, you’ll get inspired.

Run Time – 13 minutes

“…I just knew that music meant something very real, much more real than anything else to me. It seemed just like the only thing to do. I’ve always felt that acoustic instruments have much more immediacy: you can feel them in a way that you never feel digital instruments”

“El Mundo”

A window into the delights of the music of the 16 th  and 17 th  century is played by El Mundo, the wonderful chamber group led by Richard Savino, playing authentic early instruments.

The selected Spanish, Latin American and Italian pieces are lilting and lively and sung beautifully by the three female vocalists. Mr. Savino’s presentation has given the music a decidedly relatable modern feel, upon which he also elaborates in a conversation within the film. His eloquent words convey his extensive scholarship and his passion for the music. Mr. Savino’s thoughts and ideas on improvisation and a less strict adherence to rules make a winning argument. “El Mundo” is a reminder of what is remembered, and often lost, by the selective quality of the guardians of our collective memory. It gives us a glimpse of what should be remembered and cherished.

Includes: “It’s More than Music”

Run Time – 18 minutes

“El Mundo”

A window into the delights of the music of the 16 th  and 17 th  century is played by El Mundo, the wonderful chamber group led by Richard Savino, playing authentic early instruments.

The selected Spanish, Latin American and Italian pieces are lilting and lively and sung beautifully by the three female vocalists. Mr. Savino’s presentation has given the music a decidedly relatable modern feel, upon which he also elaborates in a conversation within the film. His eloquent words convey his extensive scholarship and his passion for the music. Mr. Savino’s thoughts and ideas on improvisation and a less strict adherence to rules make a winning argument. “El Mundo” is a reminder of what is remembered, and often lost, by the selective quality of the guardians of our collective memory. It gives us a glimpse of what should be remembered and cherished.

Includes: “It’s More than Music”

Run Time – 18 minutes

“I like to uncover music that has yet to be recognized on the modern concert stage… to take advantage of the connection between the audience and the performer. It is incredibly visceral, dance-like music, that shows how diverse the world was.”

Review from Mary Hoffman, Parent

Watching Richard Savino’s remarkable musical talent during this rehearsal is a rare and illuminating experience.

An inspiring documentary culminating in a performance by “El Mundo” that just took my breath away. 

Thrilling singing and musicianship ……I want to see more!

Review from Hannah Young, Colorado

“El Mundo” the latest short documentary directed by Bert Shapiro, is a window into the delights of early music. The music of the 16 th and 17 th century is played by El Mundo, the wonderful chamber group led by Richard Savino, playing authentic early instruments.

The film begins with an informal and intimate look into the rehearsal and then the performance, enhanced by the lovely setting of the Corpus Christi Church in New York City.

The selected Spanish, Latin American and Italian pieces are lilting and lively and sung beautifully by the three female vocalists. Mr. Savino’s presentation has given the music a decidedly relatable modern feel, upon which he also elaborates in a conversation within the film. His eloquent words convey his extensive scholarship and his passion for the music. Mr. Savino’s thoughts and ideas on improvisation and a less strict adherence to rules make a winning argument.

“El Mundo” is a reminder of what is remembered, and often lost, by the selective quality of the guardians of our collective memory. It gives us a glimpse of what should be remembered and cherished.

“Music is My Second Language”

Let Greenwood’s passion for music lift your spirits. This merry band likes to let loose and kick back with a few friends who share their love for music. “I don’t have it written down…it just happens, and it feels like I’m flying”

Run Time – 5 minutes

“Music is My Second Language”

Let Greenwood’s passion for music lift your spirits. This merry band likes to let loose and kick back with a few friends who share their love for music. “I don’t have it written down…it just happens, and it feels like I’m flying”

Run Time – 5 minutes

 
“What I love doing most in a performance is to close my eyes and let it come. I don’t have it written down, I don’t play it the same way twice. It just happens, and it feels like I’m flying.”

“The Thousand-Year Old Fiddle” 

Meet the Guo sisters, two passionate young Chinese students of the two-stringed fiddle. Listen and resonate with the deep emotional connection they share with this lovely instrument. “you feel the music inside you when you play the Erhu. you are making music and connecting with other people… to learn music is to learn life… music is life”

Run Time – 20 minutes

“The Thousand-Year Old Fiddle” 

Meet the Guo sisters, two passionate young Chinese students of the two-stringed fiddle. Listen and resonate with the deep emotional connection they share with this lovely instrument. “you feel the music inside you when you play the Erhu. you are making music and connecting with other people… to learn music is to learn life… music is life”

Run Time – 20 minutes

 
“You have to feel the music inside you when you play…the Erhu has the tears of a thousand people…it is the closest thing to the human voice. To learn music is to learn life.”

Review from Nick Ravich, Director of Production — Art21

One of the strongest qualities of “The Thousand-Year-Old Fiddle” and the “Music is My Passion” series in general is the matter of fact presentation of instruments and musical traditions that are potentially very new to a lot of viewers.

Director Shapiro resists exoticizing or over explaining. Instead, he takes his cue from the subject instrumentalists themselves, rightfully trusting their musicianship, pride and sheer joy to   carry an audience along.

“Discovering Indian Music”

To Samir and his fellow artists, it’s the whole universe. Let them introduce you to the aural beauty of Indian music.

“The notion that music is a conversation was the first thing that really struck me about “An Introduction to Indian Music”. I love the expressed idea that there is a beautiful and limitless relationship between rhythm and melody as portrayed in this valuable film. Akhib Mukherjee is a wonderful teacher, and his deep connection to both this music and these exotic instruments is inspiring” Listen to your surroundings… You can find music and rhythm all around you”.

Run Time – 13 minutes

“An Introduction to Indian Music”

To Samir and his fellow artists, it’s the whole universe. Let them introduce you to the aural beauty of Indian music.

“The notion that music is a conversation was the first thing that really struck me about “An Introduction to Indian Music”. I love the expressed idea that there is a beautiful and limitless relationship between rhythm and melody as portrayed in this valuable film. Akhib Mukherjee is a wonderful teacher, and his deep connection to both this music and these exotic instruments is inspiring” Listen to your surroundings… You can find music and rhythm all around you”.

Run Time – 13 minutes

 “The music is interactive between the performers…we all connect our souls and spirits together to portray the melody, it’s like having a conversation with someone who is not physically with you. It’s limitless…the deeper you go into the conversation, the higher you go in your level of consciousness.”

Review from NT, Music Teacher — Melbourne

The notion that music is a conversation was the first thing that really struck me about “An Introduction to Indian Music”. I also loved the expressed idea that there is a beautiful and limitless relationship between rhythm and melody as portrayed in this valuable and engaging film.

What is also clearly portrayed is that the study of music needn’t be seen as an additional burden to one’s life; rather, that it’s possible to view music as ‘a complementary aspect of every endeavor pursued in life’. 

Akhib Mukherjee is a wonderfully engaging and enthusiastic teacher, and his deep connection to both this music and these exotic instruments is apparent throughout. 

What exciting music, and what a beautiful and stimulating film. As with the other 13 films in the “Music is my Passion” series, it quite literally swept me away and into another world. 

I want my students to see this now! More documentary films like this please!

There is no loss in music. Only gain.

“Feeling Free When I’m Playing”

Pianist, Jenny Lin, knows that good music can be hard work. “it’s not just mastering your art, it takes a lot more, meeting people, knowing people and knowing who you are and what you do” Through repetition and sheer determination, she is focused on the moment when she can break free and feel in-tune with what she’s playing.

 

Run Time – 11 minutes

“Feeling Free When I’m Playing”

Pianist, Jenny Lin, knows that good music can be hard work. “it’s not just mastering your art, it takes a lot more, meeting people, knowing people and knowing who you are and what you do” Through repetition and sheer determination, she is focused on the moment when she can break free and feel in-tune with what she’s playing.

 

Run Time – 11 minutes

 
“It’s not just mastering your art, it’s not just practicing the piano, it takes a lot more. It takes meeting people, knowing people, it takes knowing who you are and what you do.”

Review from Nalini Tranquim, Parent — Melbourne, Australia

Jenny Lin was my favourite, and her words, “I love the feeling of being free when I’m playing” really resonated with me.

“The Joy of Performance”

Maureen Murchie, a violinist started playing music at an early age. Having grown up in Japan, with the family band, Maureen can draw from a lifelong musical tapestry. “I think of music in the same way as I think of language, it’s a means to an end, to express ideas and emotions…it provides solace, comfort and community”

Run Time – 9 minutes

“The Joy of Performance”

Maureen Murchie, a violinist started playing music at an early age. Having grown up in Japan, with the family band, Maureen can draw from a lifelong musical tapestry. “I think of music in the same way as I think of language, it’s a means to an end, to express ideas and emotions…it provides solace, comfort and community”

Run Time – 9 minutes

 
“I think of music in the same way as I think of language; it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s a means to an end, to express ideas, express emotions. A language that doesn’t require words, it provides solace, comfort and community.””

 “The Ahah! Moment”

We all yearn for it, that “Ahah!” moment. Finally it clicks and all falls into place. Professor Larry Lipkis’ goal is to help his music students, at the Moravian College, find it.

Run Time – 10 minutes

 “The Ahah! Moment”

We all yearn for it, that “Ahah!” moment. Finally it clicks and all falls into place. Professor Larry Lipkis’ goal is to help his music students, at the Moravian College, find it.

Run Time – 10 minutes

 
“the people who wrote this music were fun-loving, just as we are… I beam just thinking about it. It just makes me happy. There is flesh and blood behind the creation of this music.”

Review from Steve Allison, University of California — Irvine, California

As an educator, I thought the students in “The Aha! Moment” were remarkably articulate and inspiring. For them, the music was a bridge across the centuries to a shared experience with young people during the Renaissance.

Review from Peter R. Webster, Ph.D., Scholar-in-Residence — Thornton School of Music

Listening and watching! What a marvelous film collection on music making. Each segment was thrilling for me to watch, particularly “The Ahah! Moment” that focused on young students performing. Their enthusiasm was joyful to watch.

 “The Piffaro Sound”

In “The Piffaro Sound” it was almost like the performers were musical archaeologists who resurrected the instruments to create a sound that doesn’t otherwise exist in modern times! The rarely-heard sounds of the ancient instruments are timeless and fascinating. The musicians have re-energized the original renaissance music scores and played them on original period instruments. This makes the film a unique experience for young audiences. This film will inspire excitement in audiences of all ages.

 

Run Time – 11 minutes

 “The Piffaro Sound”

In “The Piffaro Sound” it was almost like the performers were musical archaeologists who resurrected the instruments to create a sound that doesn’t otherwise exist in modern times! The rarely-heard sounds of the ancient instruments are timeless and fascinating. The musicians have re-energized the original renaissance music scores and played them on original period instruments. This makes the film a unique experience for young audiences. This film will inspire excitement in audiences of all ages.

 

Run Time – 11 minutes

 
“We bring the music to life through the sounds of instruments that played them originally. For me, it goes back to the time when you don’t have to think about your technique; just letting the body do its thing… its can help the musicians sing through their instruments.”

Review from Steve Allison, University of California — Irvine, California

In “The Piffaro Sound” it was almost like the performers were musical archaeologists who resurrected the instruments to create a sound that doesn’t otherwise exist in modern times!

Review from Peter R. Webster, Ph.D., Scholar-in-Residence — Thornton School of Music

Seeing the early music practice and performances in “The Piffaro Sound” was a rare experience. The introduction to those instruments was wonderful; the Lute, the Crumhorn, the Rackett, the Sackbut and many more.  An eye and ear opener.

Review from Dave Allison, Pompton Lakes, NJ

I enjoyed the entire video, by my favorite part was the Piffaro. I just went back and watched it again! I have an affinity for double reed instruments, but the sounds of the ancient instruments are special. The combination of the tenor and bass bassoons was amazing. All of the double reed instruments have a wonderful sound that would be lost if it were not for groups like the one depicted in the video. I also love the sound of the recorders. Together with the double reed instruments, they combine to make a pure sound from the renaissance period. 

The group has taken the time not only to research and learn about the instruments, learn to make reeds to fit each individual instrument. The fact that they have transposed original the renaissance music scores so they can be played on the original instrument makes the segment that much more special. 

It has opened my eyes to a new aspect of music that I didn’t know exists. Hopefully it will inspire excitement in others as well.

Review from Diana Cole, Parent — Brigantine, NJ

I enjoyed the entire 14 film program, but my favorite was “The Piffaro Sound”; the rarely-heard sounds of the ancient instruments are timeless and fascinating. 

The musicians have re-energized the original renaissance music scores and played them on original period instruments. This makes the segment a unique experience for young audiences. It has also opened my eyes and ears to an aspect of music that I didn’t know existed. 

Watching this film will also inspire excitement in audiences of all ages.

“We Want People Dancing in the Aisles”

One of New York’s finest organists, Renée Anne Louprette wants you dancing in the pews, dancing in your seat to her music! With an international career as a recitalist, conductor, and teacher. Renee Louprette is featured as a passionate organ teacher and performer, tracing the development of her career through time.

Run Time – 7 minutes

“We Want People Dancing in the Aisles”

One of New York’s finest organists, Renée Anne Louprette wants you dancing in the pews, dancing in your seat to her music! With an international career as a recitalist, conductor, and teacher. Renee Louprette is featured as a passionate organ teacher and performer, tracing the development of her career through time.

Run Time – 7 minutes

 
“Working in New York City is surreal to me, it seems to be boiling all the time. It can be a lot of pressure for an artist to survive, one has to be really strong, but an artist can reach a great capacity here. But they have to be ready for what they are asking for.”

“Meet the Jazz Ensemble”

“Meet The Jazz Ensemble is a remarkable film that shares the wonder of a teachers and a student’s journey in music. Masterfully realized by Bert Shapiro, this magical film captures the essence of the teachers and students’ journey. This film that part of music and music education that can only be caught and not taught. I would make it required viewing for every music teacher and students. It reminds us of what is important as educators, students, and people”.

Run Time – 17 minutes

“Meet the Jazz Ensemble”

“Meet The Jazz Ensemble is a remarkable film that shares the wonder of a teachers and a student’s journey in music. Masterfully realized by Bert Shapiro, this magical film captures the essence of the teachers and students’ journey. This film that part of music and music education that can only be caught and not taught. I would make it required viewing for every music teacher and students. It reminds us of what is important as educators, students, and people”.

Run Time – 17 minutes

 
“Music is a universal way to communicate with people; it was the first time I had this experience, people in a room, no words, just a spark… it changed my life. It’s such a big part of my life. I don’t think I could exist without it”

Review from Rodney Jones, Jazz Guitarist

Meet The Jazz Ensemble is a remarkable film that shares the wonder of a teachers and a students journey in music. Masterfully realized by Bert Shapiro, this magical film captures the essence of the teachers and students journey. Somehow Bert has instilled in this film that part of music and music education that can only be caught and not taught.

As a professor at The Juilliard School and The Manhattan School of Music for many years I know the power of music to change lives and open hearts. This film is the best reflection and telling of this process that I have ever seen.

 For teachers and students, this film is required viewing. It serves as both a compass and a map of what is possible in the classroom when a magical teacher meets the open heart of a student and they share the gift of Music. 

“It’s More Than Just Music”

“It’s More Than Just Music” is the message Ronn McFarlane & Richard Savino want you to hear… Learning to play music teaches us so much more than just how to play, but more importantly how to live harmoniously with the world around us.

Run Time – 3 minutes

“It’s More Than Just Music”

“It’s More Than Just Music” is the message Ronn McFarlane & Richard Savino want you to hear… Learning to play music teaches us so much more than just how to play, but more importantly how to live harmoniously with the world around us.

Run Time – 3 minutes

About Bert Shapiro and “Music is my Passion”

Knowing that I can’t dance, sing, play an instrument and am just about able to manage an iPhone, it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been able to complete 30 documentary films. Having no background in filmmaking and little experience in movie-going, I’m a most unlikely candidate to do what I do. So, what motivates me to do it?