Tom Zajac, shawm, sackbut, bagpipes, recorders, percussion
1956 – 2015
Tom Zajac was a multi-instrumentalist praised for his versatility and stylish playing of music from the medieval and Renaissance periods. He was a member of the wind band Piffaro, and the New York-based theatrical/musical group Ex Umbris, and toured extensively, appearing in concert series and festivals in Hong Kong, Guam, Australia, Israel, Colombia, Mexico, and throughout Europe and the United States. Tom appeared frequently as a guest artist with the Folger Consort, King’s Noyse, Newberry Consort, Hesperus, and other leading US ensembles. He performed 14th-century music in the East Wing of the White House during the Clinton years, played serpent in a piece by PDQ Bach on an episode of A Prairie Home Companion, and the sound of his bagpipe awoke the astronauts every morning on a 2001 space shuttle mission (on a recording, of course). He performed on the sound track of several PBS documentaries for Emmy award-winning producer and composer Brian Keane and participated in over 40 recording projects, ranging from medieval dances to 21st-century chamber music.
As a director, Tom had an abiding interest in the confluence of historical and socio-cultural approaches to music making, working happily in the realm where time and place meet. He conducted research and performance projects on Colonial Latin-American music as well as on the music of the three religious cultures of pre-expulsion Spain, and music in Eastern Europe, from Poland to the Ottoman court of 16th- to 19th-century Turkey.
Recent performance projects included a 13th-century music-theater piece, the Tournoi de Chauvency, with the French-American company Ensemble Aziman, with performances in France, Luxembourg and the US and performed as a percussionist for recent Boston Early Music Festival opera productions. Tom performed in Bolivia with Piffaro, in Istanbul with the Boston-based Turkish music ensemble Dünya, and in St. Croix and Puerto Rico with long time collaborator, Grant Herreid. Tom directed the Medieval & Renaissance summer workshop for the San Francisco Early Music Society, taught at several other workshops throughout the US, and directed the early music ensembles at Wellesley College near his home in Boston.