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Continuing the freshly-minted tradition of virtual sharing in these times of plague, the Kingdom Office of Arts & Sciences once again reached out to our fabulous Arts & Sciences Championship artisans. Through interviews for the Æthelmearc Gazette our artisans can share their work with the populace at large on a more personal level. Unlike the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney, which was run completely virtual, the Kingdom Championship is a juried competition, and included a week’s worth of face to face judging – with judges especially selected for their knowledge and background – as well as an online populace “meet and greet the artisans” before Kingdom court. Master Hrólfr and I, your Kingdom Arts & Sciences officers, enjoy these challenges of finding ways to inspire and motivate our artisans in these trying times and we are happy to see the Championship ran so smoothly! The Kingdom Championship would not have been nearly as successful without the extra-ordinary organizational skills of Master Hrólfr, the web development magic of Master Robert of Ferness and the zoom room wizardry of Lady Magdalena Txoperena and Baroness Amalie. Thank you for helping our artisans shine!

Today’s interview is with Lord Éadaoin Ruadh, who entered the Kingdom of Æthelmearc Arts and Sciences Championship with A Pair of Stories.

Could you tell me a little about you, your persona?

A Pair of Stories
Lord Éadaoin Ruadh, our current Kingdom of Æthelmearc Bardic Champion

My persona is a turn of the 14th century Irishwoman who got to Scotland right around the time of Robert the Bruce. I’ve not determined whether or not she would actually write songs and stories, but she would certainly memorize and perform songs like these around a fire. Given the violence and backstabbing she has experienced, the pacifist feelings in Towton’s Creek could be right up her alley, though perhaps she wouldn’t have voiced them until after the war was finished. The love of the land and its offerings in Drink For a Scot’s Land would sit incredibly well with her character, too.

What inspired you to make your entry?

For Towton’s Creek, I’ve loved the message of Green Fields of France as well as its melody, and always wanted a period adjacent version to sing at campfires. Last Pennsic, after a late night/early morning performance that earned me a gift for my passion and talent, I was pushed even harder to complete it. Because I needed a brush tipper for it, I was also inspired to source local AEthelmearc oak and horse hair to make one for performing it (as any bard in that day would’ve done). For Drink For a Scot’s Land, I wanted to highlight the conservation efforts of Alan Watson-Featherstone and the Trees For Life charity that has been restoring Scotland’s Caledonian Forest for 40 years now. You find evidence of the flora and fauna in its verses as the land heals, as well as the timeless, world famous imagery their land evokes. Just like TFL, I believe there’s a lot to learn from nature, whether the scientific patterns or the symbolism. Additionally, so many people stereotype Scottish songs, as the opening tells us, into violence, drinking, or tragedy, so I wanted to highlight what wasn’t any of those.

Did the entry throw up any unexpected issues?

The write up took a lot longer than I expected, trying to cram in where I applied the research. I realized I need to leave more composition time, and better organize my sources for citing within my documentation. The variance in how well / poorly my voice can reach my range of notes is generally always an expected road bump, so I did my best to avoid it by singing after my voice had rested (right after waking up). Our adventure cat Mohinder decided to stay in our room while I recorded. Thankfully his movement didn’t distract the performance, and I’m glad for the practice in handling the mild chaos of a campfire.

Did you learn something specific, something you would do differently, or would recommend others to do again?

I learned a lot about how historical accounts are essentially a survey of what happened–no one group is going to have it exactly right. Somewhere in the midst of all of their words combined is the truth. As mentioned before, I would give myself much more time to prep the writing portion of the entry. I’d put more practice into breath control, as well, to help keep the audience from getting lost in choppy phrasing.

What did you think of the virtual face to face judging concept?

I’m in favor of the virtual judging when in-person isn’t possible, and this worked fine for me. This is the first competition I’ve been in with feedback on performance, so I don’t have much to compare it to.

What motivated you to enter the Kingdom Championship?

In all honesty, it was because Elska suggested it, that she would like a performance entry. Later I found it to be good practice for performing under pressure and examining how intimate I am with my pieces. I’m always happy to provide inspiration to others, to make our populace more aware of the bardic arts, and overall help where I can. The feedback helped immensely, in having experienced eyes and ears on my pieces, and my performances. I’m not truly here to win, but to compare my skill with how I’ve been in the past.

Anything else you would like to share?

I highly recommend any artisan to enter their works for a contest, even if you’re not looking for awards or renown. Sharing your knowledge and art is really what our Great Dream is about. The judging will help push you to improve and hone your skills. You never know what eyes are watching, and who next you’ll push to be their best.

Are you interested in reading more about the entry after this appetizing interview? You can! All entries including documentation and images are available at the Kingdom Office of Arts and Sciences website.