VDGSAYPW. When some of the kids from Pedro’s high school program first saw this acronym in an email they thought he was just pushing buttons on his phone. And admittedly it does look exactly like that. However it stands for The Viola Da Gamba Society of America Young Players Weekend which, this year on March 3-5, took place in lovely Navasota, TX.
We were super excited to have a meeting of the viols in Texas. It is not often we can convince the rest of the country to come down. Too hot for most people. But what a wonderful time to be here. The wildflowers were sprouting up everywhere and the weather was fab. Though it was slated to rain the whole weekend, for the most part it was just overcast and a little bit of sprinkle.
On Friday afternoon everyone arrived at Camp Allen to dinner and then an evening of playing. There were people from Pedro’s high school program, some that drove in from different parts of the state (including myself), a few that drove in from out of the state and a few that flew. Most people had a relatively early night (for a VDGSA event). However, Pedro drove into Houston to collect a Joe, one of the original members of Les Touches and we had a miniature reunion when they arrived back at the camp. We were pretty pumped to get to play with him again this weekend!
Saturday was a lovely day of group classes, coached consorts, and a masterclass and waaaaayyy too much food. On Saturday night after the master class we spent time reading consorts in the chapel until 2am. That was way too much fun. Playing music just because and no pressure from anyone or anything is something we need to do more of.
Sunday we did a few things in the morning, packed, and then headed back home. All in all it was good weekend. Pedro was in charge of putting it all together and everything came together splendidly. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly educational, both as a viol player and an organizer. A little note from Pedro since he put it all together:
It was fun and challenging to put this weekend together but, in the end, I was very happy to have been in charge of it. This was a great learning experience on how one advertises, finds faculty and great accommodations, and basically, makes everything happen for this workshop. I couldn’t have done this without the help of the YPW committee and especially the two previous directors Josh Lee and Jessica Powell. I was also very pleased that I had a few of the high school students participate in the world of gamba and get a taste of what life is like outside of the High School classroom. In the end, I even managed to convince some of those students to attend Conclave in Ohio this summer….you will hear about those adventures in July which is coming up rapidly!
One of the things that we were both very pleased about, as Pedro said, was that the high school kids got to experience music outside the High School Orchestra classroom and performance circuit. They did a really great job sight reading with good amateur and professional players and it was fun to be able to share this little taste of the music and viol world with them. I hope that they enjoy Conclave even more!
It is our wish that the early music and the viol community in Texas as a whole continues to grow. Introducing the gamba in high school is a great way to do that, but being able to host events like YPW here helps keep us connected to not only the rest of the state but the wider viol playing world. It can feel sometimes like we are a little isolated down here in the south. We hope to host more things here in the future and maybe… next time, we will see some of your faces!