Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe brings us the first in our monthly series of Artisan Profiles.

Silence de Cherbourg

Silence de CherbourgNearly twenty years ago, Lady Silence de Cherbourg attended her first SCA gathering, a bardic circle in the Barony of Windmaster’s Hill in Atlantia. This first interaction with music in the context of the SCA had a profound effect on Silence and she continues to perform, write, and do research into the Bardic Arts in the SCA, the troubadour tradition, and music of the middle ages.

As a performer, Silence wants to provide everyone with a medieval experience, which includes presenting medieval songs in English so that the lyrics can be understood by more people (her audience is primarily English-speaking) thereby making the song more meaningful to the individual listener. She used this philosophy when doing a lyrical translation of Ja Nus Hons Pris, a song written by Richard I during his time as a prisoner of Duke Leopold of Austria. She consulted with a number of people while building a translation that would be as close as possible to the original, maintain as much of the original scansion as possible, and preserve the overall feel of the original. She provides the translation, along with the documentation, on her website.

When asked what work she is proudest of, Silence told me about her hour-long performance at the Green Dragon at Gulf Wars last spring. Preparing for an hour-long set required her to polish her repertoire through careful consideration of the specific pieces that she wanted to include in the performance and the many hours of practice that is required of any performer. Her devotion to the basics of good performance served her very well and the show was a great success. This accomplishment was particularly sweet as the year before, in the same venue, after taking some time off from performing, at a Bardic “Press Gang” she became completely lost and forgot the lyrics not once, but twice. This setback, rather than discouraging her from performing again, pushed her to focus on her repertoire and intensify her practice discipline, which lead to her success a year later.

As mentioned earlier, Silence took some time off for graduate school and to raise children. When she began performing again she described it as regaining “part of my soul that had been missing”. Music is truly her passion and it is the audience that drives her as an artist and performer. When she sees that someone is reacting to the music that she is performing, or is told when something she has performed has reached someone, that is what pushes her to her next performance – that relationship with the audience.

Within the next few years, that relationship with her audience will change again as she is done with the preliminary work for her upcoming CD “Songs of Silence” and will be in the recording studio in the next two years. Until then, please look for her at Gulf Wars, Pennsic, or a Bardic Circle near you so that you can experience her performing for yourself. Her next appearance will be coordinating the Baronial Bardic competition at BMDL Twelfth Night where she will be handing over the title after a one-year term as the Debatable Lands’ Baronial Bard.

Please visit Lady Silence’s website to learn more about this musician, hear her perform, and learn more about her research.

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