Saturday night find found Cuppa, Thesha, and AC (that's me) driving almost an hour through a snowstorm out to the tiny hamlet of Maberly. The weather was bad enough that Cuppa was all for turning back, but either my stupidity or doggedness (take your pick) prevailed, and we finally reached our destination. The occasion was to be my participation in my first instrumental concert ever. It took me over sixty years but not sixty-one years to make it onstage.
Those who have hung around this blog for awhile (and my goodness haven't there been great comings and goings in blogland?) will know that I, in what may have been a fit of dementia, began fiddle lessons just over a year ago. Then, this past September, I joined (sort of joined) the Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra way out in Maberly (no, not Mayberry, Andy). When I add the phrase sort of to joined (above) I mean that I and three other beginners were rehearsed separately in a prep group. We learned the same repertoire as the others but not all of it and at a slower pace.
On Saturday evening we preppies joined the main group for their annual Christmas concert (yes, a Christmas concert on January the fifth). That's me (below) in my back row seat about a half hour before it all began. I was hidden so deeply back there (bald, smiling, to the left of centre) that I was almost never to be seen again, which was fine with me. (Due to the conditions, it's a very poor quality shot, but it's all that Cuppa was able to manage. I was out of flash range, so shutter speeds were slow and the photos blurry.)
Although I did more sitting than playing, I joined in on five pieces while two others that I knew (to some degree at least) were shelved at the last minute due to time constraints. I managed to play two of the five, Schottis fran Gelda (part of which is in the clip below) and Silent Night (where I even played harmony) fairly well. However, in all honesty I must confess to making some errors in the other pieces.
If you have played the very short video clip, you've quickly come to understand that we are a very amateurish ensemble. You know it, the audience knew it, and we players know and knew it. But we had fun; I think everyone did. There was a kind of joy and exuberance, and isn't that a large part of what music is supposed to be?
I think that fun and fellowship were perhaps the chief function of music for a long time in our history. People would come together, play together, and celebrate together. Unfortunately, this aspect is something that has been lost to some degree in modern times as song has largely evolved into performance art. As most of you well know by now, I like good music and fine performances too, but there's also something to be said for honest, participatory music.
To some extent this whole fiddling venture that I'm on feels like I am reclaiming something of my heritage. I can picture them, my forebears, back in England and Ireland participating either directly or as listeners in some sort of amateurish musical get together. And a small part of me feels that I am joining with them in a similar kind of melody. I do understand that I'll never be any good by any objective measurement, for even if I had the talent, which I don't, it's really too late for me to develop it to any degree. But playing brings me some joy and satisfaction regardless.
(PS: After that last paragraph, I feel it prudent to inform you that I don't exactly commune with my antecedents in some sort of mystical and magical daily ritual. It's just a passing feeling or thought that I sometimes have.)
(PPS: In case you're wondering, the weather had abated for the return trip and all was well: much to Cuppa's relief although she was not wholly pacified until we parked the car in the garage.)