[Bards] Bard of the Steppes

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Tue Jun 5 11:35:21 PDT 2007

On Saturday, May 26, the Steppes Eisteddfod was held.  It was an important competition, for the winner was to replace *two* bards of the Steppes, both of whom had been twice Premier Bard of the Kingdom, and one of whom was receiving his Laurel that very day.

We had newer bards, older bards, bards who began performing in the days of the Principality, even one bard who was performing before there was a Principality.  We had bardic Laurels and other Laurels, Irises, Thistles, journeymen and new bards.  Former Bards of the Steppes, former Premier Bards of Ansteorra, and the competition was judged by three current and former Premier Bards (comprising five Premier Bardships).

But even against such competition as this, there were newer, younger bards, like Yagyu Nobunagga, who dared to compete against bards who'd been winning in Ansteorra since before he was born.

The preliminary competition was held before the thrones, in front of the displayed arms of all former Bards of the Steppes, dating to Duke Inman MacMoore, who won the first Steppes bardic competition a quarter century ago.  When you have been Bard of the Steppes, the Steppes will never stop honoring you.

Sixteen performers dared the challenge of a piece about horses, pageantry or flags.  We heard songs, stories, poems and sermons.

Master Darius of the Bells told the tale of a sergeant doing his duty, recognized by Sir Percival, who said, "Give me ten like that man, and I will face 100 heroes in the field."

The Honorable Lord Antigonus Bearbait sand the praises of a lady in the audience.

Duke Jonathan DeLaufyson took the stage, and commanded our attention before his first word was spoken.

Lord Wiley Quixotic sang to us of Fiddler's Dream.

Duchess Willow de Wisp spoke form the heart, about the pageantry of the early days of Ansteorra.

The Honorable Lord Tadhg MacAedain ui Conchobhain told us a funny, engaging tale from the Norse myths.

The Honorable Lady Mea Passavanti sang a wonderfully emotional song, dazzling us with her beautiful voice.

The Honorable Lady Eleanor O'Rourke engaged our emotions with her poem about pageantry.

Baron Duncan MacGregor sang Finnican's song of Ansteorra, lifting all of our hearts.

Yogyu Nobunagga  told a tale of the Japanese pageantry of war, that started with the grand sweep and pageantry of an entire army, and worked its way to the single compelling moment of a single warrior and a single banner.

Xue Xian told us a moving tale of a silver horse.

Quill took on one the the most difficult challenges any bard can attempt -- he sang a song we had just heard, and Finnican's song lifted our hearts again.

Lady Catrin ferch Maelgwn sang of the Ansteorran banner -- "gold is the banner and black is the star" -- and made that banner fly in our hearts.

Isabella Cassidy sang in her lovely voice with cler conviction.  It held me so well that I took no notes at all.

Lucas MacRenall sang in a full, deep, well-controlled baritone.  Good emotion control, good volume control.

Maggie sang us a song that held me well enough that I have no notes at all.

The judges of the preliminary rounds were Master Cadfan ap Morgan and myself.  After some deliberation, three finalists were chosen:

Duchess Willow de Wisp, who has been performing in the SCA for over a third of a century, former Premier Bard, former Bard of the Steppes.

The Honorable Lord Tadhg, whose skills have been impressing more and more people, throughout the kingdom.

Yogyu Nobbunagga, perhaps the newest bard in the competition, but whose conviction rang through his story.

That evening, after court, the finalists appeared before the new Baroness of the Steppes to perform one final piece.  I took no notes (it was dark), but the judges agreed that there were three winning pieces, and three who deserved to win.

Her Excellency chose the performer who had touched her heart the most, and Yagyu Nobunagga was named the bard of the Steppes, the bard who could replace Robin of Gilwell and Finnacan Dubh.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin

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