Traditional Irish Music
So I did it.
Against my best judgement I have thrown myself upon the hallowed pyre that is the adjudicator of Fleadh Cheoil.
But this year because of COVID-19, the fleadh in the midwest was virtual. An audio submission. They can make no judgement based upon your appearance just your voice. AND because it's virtual, it seems more native Irish and those who have achieved excellence in traditional Irish arts are serving as adjudicators in the vocal category.
I have been studying traditional Irish singing since about 2007. I have qualified for the All-Ireland three times and competed twice. I thought I had come so far this last time in Drogheda only to find I have so far to go.
I am now studying with Eileen Estes who is teaching me better breathing. It has turned out to help me greatly with the fundraising I do for a the food bank where I work. I am hopeful that with better technique my instrument will some how respond in time for me to attempt yet again to hold my own with native Irish.
I wasn't going to compete last year. I did it because it's a great way to support the fine work of many traditional musicians in United States who are determined to maintain something that is really Irish.
What has been difficult is that the qualifying judges are so glowingly complimentary. It leads me to believe I'm on to something and then I experience this disdainful reaction from native Irish. What is going on that I can be received in such opposite ways?
And why no real useful feedback that could gain me some points next time. For example, I returned to my source singer for Turfman from Ardee (an old recording from Margaret Barry) and realized my air in Ireland was off. I have no idea why I veered off the actual melody. I think I did the same in Chicago. I went through a series of public performances before the competition but nobody mentioned the variation on air. Do folks not think Americans really want to learn it? And our repeated variations are only by mistake, not a willful attempt to move the genre forward? (which was alleged last year after the over 18 singing in English women's competition in 2019)
Anyhow, I started from scratch this year. Two brand new songs I've never competed with before. I am hopeful that someone will finally give me the truth. Or is that I haven't proven yet that I am deserving of it? For it will unlocks the keys to a place where entry is closely guarded.
But are you really judging me for what you hear? Or what you think my intent is?
Am I really making the song about myself, or are you the judge figuring as much?
At the very least, revisiting the songs of old have offered me comfort during these uncertain times.
And perhaps, in that way, victory is already mine.