Sunday, March 7, 2010

Interesting gig

I just got home from playing at an English country dance ball put on by a high school in suburban Virginia where a group of kids of involved something called "Project Enlightenment." My understanding of it (and I really should have talked to some of the people there tonight about it, but I didn't) is that the students choose a person from U.S. history during the Enlightenment era and learn all about him or her, and then once a year they spend a couple of days doing reenactments at Mt. Vernon. So all the high-schoolers at this thing, as well as the caller and most of the adults who were there, were dressed in period outfits. I got the impression that the ball was something they haven't done before, but I could be wrong about that.

It was held at Gadsby's Tavern in Old Town Alexandria. Part of the tavern is a restaurant, and part is a museum/historical site -- that was where the ball was held. The dancing was a pleasant room with a wood floor, and there were refreshments in a separate room. I didn't do a head count, but I'd estimate that maybe 100 or so people were there.

The band consisted of recorder, fiddle, and cello, and I'm sure it sounded elegant (sort of Mozart- or Haydn-esque). My cello has been sounding tight and dry all week, and it just wasn't ringing the way it usually does, so I wasn't happy with how I sounded. All those times when I've played with the little local band for 10 people and the cello sounded great, and then for this, when there was a big audience . . . oh, well, that's how it goes, I guess.

I'm sure the people were mostly concerned about their dancing and weren't paying much attention to the tone of my cello. The other two musicians were very good, particularly the fiddle player. I noticed that if I started using a different rhythm or articulation in the accompaniment, she would immediately start doing it, too. I rarely get a chance to play with someone who can do that. The whole thing was very tiring, though. We played from 7:00 until after 10:00 with one short break. I'm glad it's over.

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