Sunday, August 1, 2010

Memories of Augusta

I have many photos to share about last week's Irish/Celtic heritage workshops at the Augusta series at Davis & Elkins college in Elkins, WV. Here are a few of the people who made it a special week:

First, my instructor Robbie O'Connell and his wife Roxanne. Both sing beautifully, and together their harmonies are magic. Robbie shared many songs with us during the week in class, and Roxanne joined us in the evenings for singing circle.

The Friday night singing circle closed a week of special evenings spent with new friends, singing, laughing and sharing memories and information about songs. We gathered each evening in a lounge located below a circular staircase in Benedum Hall to sing, usually going around the circle and each one singing as their turn came up. I enjoyed the discovery of "traveling verses", lines that re-occur in other ballads, as well as phrasings that are common in Appalachian ballads. Sometimes a song was sung that had the same words as one I knew from the Appalachian tradition, but with a completely different melody. On the last evening we got together are on the small side porch of the Halliehurst mansion, a place where well-loved Irish singer Frank Harte used to sing each evening during Augusta. I never heard of Frank Harte until the past week, and now I know I have to find his music and listen to him after hearing so much about him. He may be gone in the flash, but in the memories of those who knew him, he is alive and well, and many stories are still being told about his exploits and his talent.

Our singing class's song for the student concert was "The Beautiful Flower of Kilkenny." We did fairly well, having started to learn the song on Wednesday and performing it on Friday. Robbie left us to fly on our own with no backup from him, which was a bit different from the presentations of most of the classes and I think was a good thing--we needed to really work together. Several in our group could play instruments and they had double the learning since they learned not only the lyrics but also how to play the song. In the course of the week we learned at least three songs which we can add to our repertoire. More about the classes and what we learned in a future post.

In the Icehouse pub on Thursday night with granddaughter Cassidy. I will post more photos of the pub later. I was glad to have this time with Cassie and to hear so many people validate that she is indeed an incredible singer. At 14, she has many years ahead to develop her talent. Can you imagine discovering your real calling at her age? I think I was still trying to figure out how to do my hair at the age.

More pictures will be coming later this week. I am so grateful for digital photography--we can capture so many memories so easily now.


Rowan said...

Glad to hear that you had such a good time in Augusta.

SallyB said...

It was so fun having you as a classmate in Robbie's class. I absolutely LOVE your stories and thank you SO much for the CD. I will treasure that as someone who grew up in a household where our entertainment was telling stories and singing songs. I love your singing voice, too. Wow! I do hope you come back next year to Irish Week and regale us with more of your stories and songs!

Nance said...

Is there link, on line to the "Irish/Celtic heritage workshops"? would love to learn more. Also would love to find a link to hear your granddaughter singing.

Granny Sue said...

Sally, it was a real vacation for me. So much to learn and think about! And many new friends. I can't think of a better vacation than that.

Granny Sue said...

Nance, you can google Augusta Heritage and you'll find a link to the series. Irish/Celtic week is always the 3rd week of the series.

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