[Bards] Report on Eisteddfod AS XLI

Gerald Norris jerryn at houston.rr.com
Sun Jan 7 09:51:19 PST 2007

For those of you who weren't able to make Eisteddfod, let me be the first to
tell you that you missed one of the finest competitions I've had the
privelege of being a part of.  What follows is one poor minstrel's attempt
to report on Kingdom Eisteddfod, January 6th, AS XLI.

The weather was cold and blustery through the day.  The tent became so
crowded with bards and audience that a wall had to be taken down so that
others outside the tent could watch the performances.  While the weather
grew colder toward the later part of the afternoon, enough spare cloaks and
heat sources were available that few were uncomfortable (except in the RoD,
in which there were 15 varying levels of discomfort).  Lady Melody McGregor
ran a hospitality pavillion behind the performance pavillion, with welcomed
warm drinks and small noshes for hungry bards.  The placement of the
entertainment pavillion along the walkway gave a good exposure for the
competition as it was along a main entry path, rather than being stuck away
in a corner of the building, or having to contend with a noisy hall (and
they're all noisy, and it IS distracting).  Should Eisteddfod return to
wandering about the Kingdom, I would recommend that we continue to find ways
to hold the competition outside, near a major access path.  

Eleanor, it was easy to see, from the start, how much of your heart is taken
with being a part of the bardic community.  Your words of encouragement
before the competition began were heartfelt and welcomed.  By the time the
competition had started there were fifteen entrants, with Maggie starting
off with a wonderful poem that she recited in English, then Chinese, which
left the audience floored.  I had to follow that!

The first round, performer's choice, was a display of some fantastic pieces
of performance that ran the gamut; from a silly poem (Casey at the Crown)
performed by your humble servant, to beautiful songs in French (Katrina of
Coventry) and stories  and poetry.  Everyone stepped up to the line and
towed it quite handsomely, including those who have never entered an
Eisteddfod before, or those who hadn't performed in some time.  There was no
need to silence the audience, and many stopped on their way to and fro from
the hall, to watch as yet another performer took the center and cast their

The second round (henceforth known as the Round of Dread, or RoD), was as
much entertainment from the reaction of the contestants as they drew their
word/phrase/doom from a small box, with five minutes to come up with a
performance to match the w/p/d.  Once again, performances ranged from the
merely entertaining (mine) to inspirational, heartwarming, and joyful.  This
round pressed every performer outside of their comfort zone, sometimes by a
good bit.  Duchess Willow sang!  A drinking song!  That I want to learn!  If
you get the opportunity, ask HL Rhiannon to tell you her great (to the nth)
grandmother's tale of the origin of Arthur's Round Table.  The RoD was
filled with good cameraderie and much playful teasing by all the
contestants.  I believe that Svan even shed a tear (or that might have been
because his Ansteorran Shot Glass (tm) was empty).  The judges could be
heard gleefully chortling as each new vict.... er, contestant picked their
entry from the Box of Doom.

Judging the competition were HL Eleanor O'Rourke, HE Ulf Gunnarson, and HL
Tigamus Bearbait.  These three were set an awful task, to winnow from the
fine performances and pick the best of the lot for the final round.  Not a
soul in the tent envied them their position as time came to choose the two
or three contestants.  They returned, ready to announce the finalists, but
first largesse was given to those that had inspired through the day, or
those that lend inspiration through the course of time and their actions.  

The three finalists were announced; Finnaican, Rhiannon, and Darius.  Their
order of performance was Finnaican, Darius, then Rhiannon.  Finnaican
offered up a new anthem, with accompaniment by fine warriors of Ansteorra,
who performed the chant for the background for his anthem.  Darius offered a
fine poem, bringing some to tears.  Rhiannon's offering was a beautiful song
that she sang from the heart.  All fine performances, and once again, the
judges had to make a hard decision.

I would be remiss in my reporting if I didn't mention the fun that was had.
The atmosphere was relaxed and playful, with bards having fun.  If you
weren't able to see the judges table you would have thought it merely a
gathering of bards to perform (an idea I'll talk about in another post).  In
my mind I believe that this was the finest, most fun Eisteddfod that I have
participated in.  The day was filled with song and story, sung and told by
performers who love their craft and were happy to share.  Time was taken to
rest halfway between the first two rounds as well as between each round, and
that was filled with music and dancing and song (Sea Chanty's!!!!!).  There
were many smiling faces, laughter, and a general happiness with the world
despite wind or weather.

Oh!  The winner?  I had to leave before the winner was announced, but a
reliable source reports that our new Kingdom Bard of Ansteorra is none other
than Finnaican.  In her words before closing the competition, HL Eleanor
told the gathered crowd that the level of performance was such that had
their been a way to parcel the Cloak of State into fifteen pieces she would
not have had a second thought of handing each contestant a piece.  I can
heartily agree.

My hope?  That this will be our future.  That Eisteddfod will only grow
(Maybe have two big tents), and that more of Ansteorra's finest performers
will be inspired to join in the competition and fun.  

Thus ends my report, poor excuse that it be.  Others with finer wit and
loftier words may provide greater detail.

In service to the dream with a song in my heart, I am,
HL Gerald of Leesville
A bard of Stargate 

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