As I have mentioned on previous occasions, I have been busy preparing for my Kingdom’s Bardic Championship.
What an amazing weekend.
I was able to kick off the entire event first thing Saturday morning with my version of “The Boar’s Head Carol,” and that was just the start of the Awesomeness. Though I had experienced quite a bit of nervous adrenaline that served to get me a touch too amped for the performances, all my prior preparation won out. Each performance (“The Three Ravens” and then an instrumental solo of “Pastyme with Good Companye”) turned out better than the last. Performance-wise, I felt like I was on fire, a veritable powerhouse.
Each performance contains an interview component, which was a new experience for me. I strove for candid honesty, answering the variety of queries to the best of my ability and admitting when I didn’t know. It could very easily have been nerve-wracking, but the judges’ sheer enthusiasm and appreciation for historical music won out to set me at ease. It was such a treat to perform for people who truly get it; I have spent so much of my mundane performance time over the years trying to bridge the gap, so to speak, that it was refreshing to play for an enthusiastic crowd. A true breath of fresh air.
Throughout it all, my amazing and loyal Canton/Barony friends were there with me, cheering me on with surprising fervor.
Then, on Saturday night, I found out I made the finals.
I couldn’t hardly believe it. The weekend had already surpassed my hopes and dreams, and I felt like I had already achieved the goals I had set for myself: to represent my Baroness well as her Artisan, to represent myself well, and to meet new people as well as have some much-needed fun after a very trying couple of weeks. Anything else was just gravy. I didn’t expect much, it being my first Kingdom-level competition.
And I’d been picked to move on.
The feeling was indescribable. Important people — Laurels (who have achieved excellence in the Arts & Sciences) and prior Champions — as well as audience members, people I’d never met before were all approaching me with friendly tips, advice, and encouragement. The sudden attention almost bordered on overwhelming. My competitive streak fought to rear its head as I suddenly realized I might seriously have a chance.
Sunday morning came very early, and the hall filled with people. One by one we gave our best opus to the judges, Majesties, and watching populace. I chose “Three Ravens,” my highest-scoring piece from Saturday. I gave it my all, and at the soaring height of the dramatic climax, I let that single note resonate as if everything depended on it…
…and in the hush that followed, I looked up to see an audience wiping their faces of tears.
My humble, rescued guitar spoke softly right where it needed to be as we brought the tension in the room back down and quietly wrapped it up.
It was, to date, the best performance of my life.
The final interview process was a blur, and I don’t remember much of what happened immediately after I walked off stage except being surrounded by people handing me tokens and offering words of their esteem. The wait for the verdict at closing court seemed impossibly long, except for the lovely ceremony where I witnessed the outgoing Champion’s farewell song (absolutely stunning). She finished, returned her regalia, and we cheered for her, in honor of her service, as she made the triumphant walk out.
Then, with no preamble, the herald shouted out the name of the new champion.
What an amazing weekend.