Adam Knight Gilbert

Director, Early Music department & Chair, Musicology program


Adam Knight Gilbert, musicology, recorder and historical double reeds, is one of the premier international players of the Renaissance shawm. He grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. The first graduate of the Early Music program at the Mannes College of Music in New York City, he has performed as a member of New York’s Ensemble for Early Music, the Waverly Consort and Piffaro, the Renaissance Band. He has appeared with ensembles such as Calliope, ARTEK, New York Cornet and Sackbut Ensemble, The Court Dance Company of New York, the Folger Consort, Concert Royal, The Bach Ensemble, Chatham Baroque, Newberry Consort, Canto (Colombia) and La Caccia Alta (Belgium) among others. He is also a founding member of ensemble Ciaramella, which performs concerts of fifteenth-century music in the U.S., Israel, and Belgium, and has recorded on the Naxos label.

Gilbert studied recorder at Rotterdams Conservatorium and studied in Leuven, Belgium from 1998 to 2000 as a recipient of the Fulbright and Belgian American Education Foundation Grants working on his dissertation “Elaboration in Heinrich Isaac’s Three-Voice Mass Sections and Untexted Compositions.” He completed his Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University in 2003 and taught for two years as a visiting assistant professor at Stanford University. Gilbert can be heard on Dorian, Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv, Passacaille, Musica Americana and Lyrichord labels. His research specialties include allusion in fifteenth-century song and Mass, pastourelles and their symbolism, improvisation, compositional processes and embellishment from 1400–1700. He lectures, gives master classes internationally and is an adjunct faculty of Tilburg Conservatorium in Holland.

Professional experience

Career Highlights:

  • Ensemble for Early Music, 1982-1985
  • Waverly Consort, 1985-1990
  • Piffaro, 1989-2004
  • Ciaramella, 2001-Present
  • Acting Assistant Professor, Stanford University, 2003-2005

Honors, Awards & Competitions:

  • Fullbright Fellowship, 1998-1999
  • Belgian American Education C.R.B. Fellowship 1998-2000
  • Member of Corporation and Selection Committee, B.A.E.F.

Music Festivals:

  • Spoleto Festival, Italy
  • Regensburg Festival, Germany
  • Madison Early Music Festival
  • Boston Early Music Festival
  • San Francisco Early Music Festival


  • Ciaramella, Music at the Crossroads of Renaissance Germany. Naxos (2005).
  • Piffaro, Trionfo d’Amore e della Morte: Music for a Medici Procession. Dorian (2003).
  • Piffaro, Music from the Odhecaton. XCD 90301, Dorian, (2002).
  • Piffaro, Stadtpfeiffer: Music of Renaissance Germany. XCD-90292 Dorian (2001).


  • Chacona Ytaliana (recorded on Piffaro, Los Ministriles, 1996)
  • Der grabentanz (recorded on Piffaro, Stadtpfeiffer, 2001)
  • Wil niemand singen, so sing aber ich (recorded on Piffaro, Stadtpfeiffer, 2002)
  • Arrigo (recorded on Piffaro, Trionfo d’Amore e della morte, 2003)
  • Ars fantasia (American Recorder Society Magazine, 2004)

Research Interests:

  • Allusion and Attribution in Fifteenth-Century Song and Mass
  • Improvisation and Compositional Processes, 1400-1700
  • Pastourelles and Symbolism
  • Shawms and Bagpipes: Performance Practice, Iconography and Symbolism
  • Performance Practice


  • “Renaissance Bagpipes,” for new edition of Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music, ed. Jeffery Kite-Powell ( 2006).
  • “Eight Brief Rules for Composing a Si placet Altus,” for new edition of Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music, ed. Jeffery Kite-Powell (2006).
  • “Some Rehearsal Tips and Ensemble Techniques for Early Music Ensemble Directors,” for new edition of Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music, ed. Jeffery Kite-Powell (2006).
  • Contributing editor, Harmonice Musices Odhecaton A: Quincentenary Performing Edition, ed. David Fallows (Shirley: Amherst Early Music, Inc., 2001).
  • “The Bagpipe: Superexcellens omnia instrumenta,” in Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music, ed. Ross Duffin (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 399-411.

Academic degrees

Other academic experience:

  • Rotterdams Conservatorium, 1990-1991
  • Katholike Universiteit Leuven, 1998-2001, Visiting Scholar

Studied with:

Paul Echols, Dennis Godburn, Stephen Hammer, Paul Leenhouts