Pennsic 44 has come and gone, and I’m finally getting around to doing a recap of it. I’m fortunate enough to have help with my children even though my husband doesn’t play which is the only reason I really got any bardic in at all. However, I made a point of not committing to anything longer than a 5 minute performance, particularly since my youngest is still under 1 and nursing.
I was invited to participate in the “Tri-Kingdom Bardic Showcase”, a showing-off of bards from the three host kingdoms. In prior years it’s been just the East and Mid, but when they team up and declare war on us, then AEthelmearc gets invited to the bardic table as well. I decided to keep it as period as possible and trotted out my translation of Ja Nus Hons Pris, with harp. I need to work on playing the harp louder as I’m not sure how well it was actually heard by the audience. *I* can hear it just fine though.
My next committed performance was singing harmony for the last song in the presentation of “Heloise and Abelard” by Mistress Dervila with musical interludes by Master Efenwealt. The closing piece was Domino Fidelium, and fortunately alto lines are dirt simple, plus I was allowed to use music. But it went over well, and it was the one time I actually took care to dress up properly. (Note to self, remember that a filet doesn’t weigh down your veil as much as a circlet and wear the damn barbette next time.)
My final performance was doing my duty as the baronial bard for BMDL and competing in the Seven Pearls bardic tournament. Many of the bardic champions from the other baronies were doing repeat terms and were old hat at the competition, but this was my first time. I suspect it won’t be my last. Unfortunately, the prize of the Gob was not to be mine, but we were told that this was one of the best set of performances they’ve heard and the decision was incredibly difficult. I had decided to do “Macha’s Curse” as it’s a good attention grabber and there were several positive reactions when I mentioned Emer as the songwriter, but in hindsight perhaps I should’ve done Weight of the Chain again as it’s a bit more rousing. I fell into the trap of thinking that since I sing it so often these days, people will get tired of hearing it, or that my Baron/ess would be disappointed if I sang the same song with which I won the champion competition. However, this was an audience of many who’d never heard me before, and my Baroness later remarked that she does love Weight of the Crown quite a bit. I’ll make a point of performing it for her at least once more before she steps down later this year. Lesson to take away: it’s not a sin to stick to the greatest hits, especially at Pennsic where the venues are so varied.
I did get a little bit more performing time in my own kingdom’s royal encampment. During the kingdom party, Quyn (one of the most delightful and talented bards I know) was performing off in a corner and roped me into singing some rounds with her when I stuck my head into camp. So, with a sleeping baby strapped to my back, we sang as many period rounds as we could remember, and were joined here and there by others picking up additional lines.
My last night at Pennsic was exactly what I could have hoped. What started as Emer saying to a couple friends, “Hey, come over to High Rafters tonight and we’ll sing” turned into a gathering of some of the best the bardic community has to offer. Ken and Lisa, Dorigen, Morgana, Flieg, Dahrien, Cerian, Maraha, Rosalind, Emer, Quyn, Gwen… And others but my memory isn’t perfect. I really enjoyed listening to all my bardic tribe performing, and I got to bring out Weight of the Chain (yet again) to some glorious harmonies. I feel like I need to send Aneleda some sort of thank-you card for writing such an instant hit. I also did Truly’s “Twilight Ride” at Morgana’s request, which always is a crowd pleaser.
There’s a tradition in the bardic community of giving rings as tokens to fellow bards with the sentiment, “You did something that impressed or inspired me. Keep this ring for a year and a day, and then pass it on to someone who does the same for you.” I now have knocking around in my head the desire to commission (or make myself if I can borrow the right equipment) a handful of custom rings that I can use as my personal tokens. Must do more research on period ring styles to see if there’s anything economical and appropriate for my persona (such as it is).
For the next few years, my bardic participation will unfortunately be roughly the same as this year, for having small children is a monumental feat in time and energy. But at least I’m still around, and doing what I can to stay at least a little active!