Tom Zajac is a multi-instrumentalist praised for his versatility. He’s a member of the well-known Renaissance wind band Piffaro and a frequent guest with the Folger Consort, Newberry Consort, Boston Camerata, Cançonièr, Texas Early Music Project and others. He also performs on santur, miskal and zurna with the Boston-based Turkish music ensemble, Dünya. He has toured extensively, having appeared in concert series and festivals in Hong Kong, Guam, Australia, Israel, Turkey, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, and throughout Europe and the United States. He can be heard on over 40 recordings of everything from medieval dances to 21st-century chamber music. With his group Ex Umbris, he performed 14th-century music at the 5th Millennium Council event in the East Room of the Clinton White House and 18th-century music for the score of the Ric Burn’s documentary on the history of New York.
He’s played hurdy gurdy for the American Ballet Theater, bagpipe for an internationally broadcast Gatorade commercial and serpent in a PDQ Bach piece live on an episode of A Prairie Home Companion. The sound of his bagpipes awoke the astronauts every morning on a 2001 space shuttle mission. In August of 2011, by invitation of the Polish government organization Instytut Kultury Polskiej, he took part in a research visit to hear and meet Polish early music musicians and ensembles at two festivals in the southeast of the country. He wrote an article about these experiences that was published in the Winter 2011/12 issue of the Early Music America journal.
As a director, Tom has a long-standing interest in the confluence of historical and socio-cultural approaches to music making, working happily in the realm where time and place meet. He has done 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.
Tom teaches at recorder and early music workshops throughout the US, is on the faculty of the Madison and Amherst Early Music Festivals and directs the Medieval & Renaissance week of the SFEMS workshops as well as the early music ensembles at Wellesley College near his home outside Boston.