Last Saturday, the East Kingdom held its annual Bardic Championship, and I had the surreal experience of participating in this event as one of the MCs and judges. This was hardly the only “first” for the championship, which of course was conducted entirely online for the first time as well.
It was a glorious day, and our eight competitors brought their A games. Solveig Bjarnardottir, Úlfarr gylðir, Robert Tytes, and first-time competitor Berakha bat Mira v’Shlomo brought magnificent performances that you will want to check out at the link above if you missed them. I was grateful that our schedule for the day permitted their Majesties Tindal and Alberic to request that everyone perform again for the second round.
As a veteran competitor, I will say once more that the talent pool in this kingdom is deep, and our bardic championships are practically Thunderdome to get through. Amalie von Hohensee and Ona Seredžiška de Chevry, Baronial Bard of Dragonship Haven (new to this championship) did an incredible job in the Final Four round, answering their Majesties’ challenge to perform a piece engaging for the youngest Tygers watching.
I was deeply grateful to my outgoing co-champion Grim, and our guest judge Aneleda Falconbridge, for their help with the daunting task of scoring and providing analysis of each performance. Ultimately, the final selection of Bardic Champions is their Majesties’ alone. HRM Tindal selected David Anthony, the Foxy Bard, to be the new Sovereign’s Champion, and HRM Alberic chose Agnes de Calais as his Consort’s Champion. Both of them brought their own distinct energy, complete confidence, and particular mastery of playing to, and engaging, an audience they could not see.
I must take a moment to thank Deonna von Aachen for keeping us organized as Event Steward, and Master Matthias von Würzburg for running point on the Zoom meeting and the YouTube live-stream. Their Majesties were fully engaged in enjoying, considering, and supporting these performers (who braved an unfamiliar venue over a year into this lockdown, and came fantastically well-prepared), and awards were bestowed upon all of them in court. The Bardic Arts are alive and well, pandemic or no, in the East.
Finally, there are a few personal reflections I would like to share as I look back on my fourteen months as Queen’s and Consort’s Bard:
- It was an incredible joy and privilege to be able to serve Margarita, Alberic, Tindal, and my kingdom. This was not the year any of us were expecting, and it was not the year I had been hoping for. If, as some of you have suggested, I turned out to be the right person with the right skills for the “wrong” place and time, I’m grateful for the blessings that come with adversity, even as I cannot wait to see my friends, my tribe, my chosen family face to face at some point in the not too distant future.
- I thank the Universe that I had my family, Jessa and Spencer, to support me through this experience. I wouldn’t have made it to or through the competition last year, nor the time since, without their love and support.
- I particularly want to thank my Peer team, Peregrine and Toki, my former Peer Zsof, and my predecessor Laila, for their advice and support. The whole Bardic Community was amazing, but these folks were invaluable.
- A little over three years ago, Jessa and I had dinner with some new SCA friends we had met through Facebook. Over the course of that lovely meal, I yammered on as I sometimes do about how much delight I get being a bard in the Society, and Brandy was fascinated to hear that the barriers to entry in the bardic community are actually really low. A few weeks later, Brandy–I’m sorry, Agnes–posted that our conversation had inspired her to try her hand at storytelling…and she had just been selected as Baronial Bard of the Bridge. I watched her to go on to win the bardic war point at Wars of the Roses (the same day that I met Crown Princess Margarita). We prepared for the next two kingdom bardic championships together, and rooted for one another side by side. She cheered as loud as anyone last year when my name was called. I am delighted to have the opportunity to hand off this champion’s baldric to her now. She earned this all on her own–all of the competitors were scrupulously careful about not involving the judges in their preparations. But I am very proud to have helped open the door for her, and I look forward to cheering her and Foxy on.