Founded in Philadelphia in 1980, Piffaro performs 15th- through 17th-century music. Under the artistic direction of Joan Kimball and Robert Wiemken, the ensemble has released 16 CDs since 1992, including four on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon/Archiv Produktion label, as well as on Dorian Recordings and Parma/Navano. In 2011, Piffaro produced Music in New Spain, a Center-funded project that explored the historic music resulting from Spain's encounter with indigenous civilizations in Central and South America during its 16th-century imperial expansion. In 2015, Piffaro received Center support to present The Musical World of Don Quixote, a music and movement performance offering audiences a distinctive interpretation of Miguel de Cervantes' four-century-old classic, Don Quixote.
Piffaro's Music in New Spain project explored music resulting from Spain's encounter with indigenous civilizations in Central and South America during its 16th-century imperial expansion. For a weekend of concerts, Piffaro developed repertoire drawn from the archives of Mexican cathedrals, Bolivian mission churches, and various sources in Guatemala and Peru. The Rose Ensemble from St. Paul, Minnesota—one of the country's leading early music groups—sang an array of sacred and secular works, and Piffaro showcased instrumental dances that represented a merging of Spanish and New World styles. The program conveyed the integration of European and New World musical traditions during the 16th and 17th centuries—the first half featuring music from New Spain (Mexico, Central America), and the second featuring music from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Extensive educational programs and a recording on the Navona label brought project repertoire to local students and international listeners.