The Lute Piece

After K&Q Bardic on Saturday, one piece of fieldback I received was that my round one lute piece should have been more polished. It certainly should have. I knew that I would be somewhat discombobulated by the crowd, but I really hoped my intensive preparation would provide enough confidence for me to make it through with much less difficulty than I had.

For those who are curious…I recorded a practice session a little over a month ago and shared it privately with my Laurel. While I had not yet added the spoken words (which of course make it a bit more challenging), being recorded also makes me nervous (though clearly not remotely as much as a public audience). This is what the piece sounded like then.

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K&Q Bardic Champions: Wins, Learns, & Changes

What if a day, or a month, or a yeare
Crown thy delights with a thousand sweet contentings?
Cannot a chance of a night or an howre
Crosse thy desires with as many sad tormentings?
–Anonymous

King’s and Queen’s Bardic and A&S Champions was held yesterday. I’ve been running relatively quiet while I prepared for the last several months. While Bardic and A&S have become a combined event as of last year, and are likely to stay that way, for most of us who compete, they are essentially separate events, because there is little opportunity to focus on the other when we’re participating in the one. So I will speak only to the Bardic. And, as I tend to, I’m going to go heavy on process as I experienced it. (I won’t apologize for that…I’m learning that a number of other bards, including some I competed against yesterday, read my posts, and find value in what I share.)

But first, let’s not bury the lede. His Majesty Ivan selected my dear friend Juliana Bird (aka Bird the Bard) as his new King’s Champion, and Her Majesty Mathilde selected my new friend Geoffrey of Exeter, originally from Lochac (Australia), and an experienced bard in at least two other kingdoms, as her Queen’s Champion. I had the honor of competing in the final four against them, alongside Phelippe le Vigneron, who like Bird, is an incredibly talented bard from Bhakail, and relatively new to the SCA bardic scene (this was his first competition). [CORRECTION: Phelippe is from Settmour Swamp, and told me as much. I have a terrible habit of lumping people together who play in Bhakail, because I’m frankly jealous of their camaraderie and live too far away to participate regularly in it.]

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Kenric of Blessed Memory

As most people in the SCA are no doubt aware, Kenric æt Essex, aka Michael Perry, went out kayaking on Friday January 12 around noon, and was not heard from afterward. A day later, at 5 pm, the Coast Guard called off the search, and he has since that time been presumed lost. [UPDATE: His kayak was discovered in the water on Sunday.]

Like so many, I did not know Kenric as well as I might have liked. Continue reading

Stepping Down as Baronial Bard

It’s been a little over two weeks since Bjorn’s Ceilidh, so this post is rather overdue. (Surprise.) But life has been very full and busy, and that’s how it goes. Still, it’s important to me to take a moment and reflect on Ceilidh, and my time as Concordia’s bardic champion.

It has been a privilege and a delight to serve as champion for Baron Jean-Paul and Baroness Lylie. They are both warm and encouraging, and I had the opportunity to see close at hand how diligently they carry their responsibilities for Concordia of the Snows.

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Baronial Bardic championship at Bjorn’s Ceilidh

Announcing: at Bjorn’s Ceilidh (Saturday November 11), their Excellencies JP and Lylie will be selecting the next Bardic champion for the Barony of Concordia of the Snows.

The competition will be held in three rounds, with the following format:

  • Round one: perform the piece with which you are most comfortable. Show us what you do best.
  • Round two: perform a piece you have never before shared in competition. Stretch and surprise us.
  • Round three: perform a piece that is documented as having origins in the medieval period. Documentation should at most be half a page or fill an index card. The piece can be wholly from period, a contrafact if a period work, or composed in a period form or style.

To compete, you must either be a resident of Concordia, or willing to give your fealty to the Barony on being chosen. Please inform the current baronial bard, Drake Oranwood, of your intention to compete either privately or at Ceilidh.

Competitors should only enter if they are prepared to serve as Baronial bard if selected by their Excellencies, and have no duties or obligations which would prevent them from serving appropriately.

The responsibilities include:

  • Attend the majority of Concordian events and participate in any Baronial Court held at those events.
  • Attend the Baron and Baroness at some out of Barony events, including Pennsic if possible.
  • Wear the regalia of your position.
  • Supervise (or delegate) the Bardic competition and War Point at the Wars of the Roses.
  • Organize next year’s Baronial Champion competition to choose your successor.

In service,

Lord Drake Oranwood

Baronial Bard

Learning the Lute

I have been teaching myself to play lute pieces for about two years now. I started practicing in earnest in preparation for the East Kingdom King’s and Queen’s Bardic Championships in the winter/spring of 2016, figuring it was time I took on a serious and challenging period skill. I kept it on the down-low the whole time, because I have learned that one thing an entertainer can do that really impresses an audience is exceed their expectations. Since then, I have expanded my Elizabethan repertoire to half a dozen songs, and shared them with audiences semi-regularly at events: at last year’s Roses as an A&S display, competing for Baronial Bard, in my concert last Pennsic, and most recently at Winter Nights, where I was challenged to play lute during both the challenge rounds.

It’s just as I feared: Once you’ve shown people you can do something, they start expecting it of you again. (I suppose investing in a new instrument and sharing it on Facebook just before Winter Nights didn’t exactly help…)

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Winter Nights: Reflections and Thanks

Last Saturday, I got to participate in the SCA in a way that I had never done before: running a full-day event. As Concordia’s Baronial Bard, I had the privilege of serving as event steward (or, as some say, “autocrat”) for the Winter Nights competition. The event, which had been a Concordian event for several years, recently changed to a three-year rotation between East Kingdom’s Northern, Southern, and Central regions. This is the first time it has come back to Concordia, and so it was a stroke of luck that it happened during my term as champion. While for many people, running an event is a key part of growing and evolving in the SCA, I have never yearned to have that responsibility. Given my ADHD (and my ego’s exhibitionist streak), the thought has been one I have long shied away from.

With one important exception. I have always dreamed of running Winter Nights.

This all-day bardic competition was my introduction to the bardic community five years ago. Winning it two years back was one of the most delightful surprises I’ve had as a bard. This event taught me about camaraderie, about improvisation, about the breadth of talent and skills and generosity that this kingdom’s bards (and not just this kingdom’s) have to offer. In many ways, it is as much home to me as Pennsic is. (Not for nothing did I slip a name-check into my East Kingdom anthem.)

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