Did they really play bagpipes for Baby Jesus?


For five years, Zampognari di Filadelfia has been honoring an Italian Christmas tradition that dates back to musical shepherds at the Nativity scene.

Zampognari di Filadelfia features Susan Simon and Charles Rutan. The two were seen performing outside of DiBruno’s cheese shop in the Italian market in South Philly on Wednesday.

Roxborough native Simon plays the ciaramella, a double reed instrument much like the oboe. She is accompanied by zampognari player Charles Rutan whose instrument is made of Calabrian goatskin and wood from olive and ash trees. Rutan says many Italian believe it was an instrument like his that was played for Baby Jesus as depicted in the Nativity scene.

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Joining them with vocals, Antonio Romano, belts out “Tu scendi dalle stella”, a popular Italian Christmas carol about the great king born into poverty.

Zampognari di Filadelfia performs again today outside of DiBruno’s cheese shop from 12 to 3 p.m.

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