I was very grateful as well to be able to visit Bloomington and see old friends and play even more consorts.
First off I would like to say that I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to attend conclave through the custos program. Not only did it make the trip more affordable, it kept me involved. Being my first time at conclave it can be quite easy to stay locked up in your room or to yourself, but my assignments kept me out and exploring. I was able to learn the ins and outs of the campus just by hanging the signs up. I learned tons of names before I even met the person, and it was always so cool when someone would introduce themselves and I could go “I know you” when truly I had only known of their name.
I came into the week of Conclave with zero expectations. I had just come back the day before we left from Colorado, another 16-hour drive, and I was honestly unsure how I was even going to survive the trek to Conclave. Immediately, my uncertainty became justified when I arrived at a car too small for our needs. Turns out that trying to fit 5 people, our luggage for a 12-day trip, and 12 viols of various sizes into a 2017 Dodge Journey can’t be done, so after an hour of Tetris and debating we resulted to renting another luxuriously roomy car, a Ford Focus. Somehow, we fit all our stuff into the two cars and left for Oxford, Mississippi, our stop for the night. Once we were on the road I started to accept the possibility that this trip might not actually be so bad, that was until Mr. Funes found out that Ellis took a completely different route to Oxford. For over half the day Mr. Funes and I spent all our time going from I-10 up to I-20 in hopes of meeting up with Ellis, Jonbeth, and Alex. I personally wish we had just stayed on our route because whatever way we took to get to I-20 had me battling the desire to doze off and thus leave Mr. Funes to watch the road all on his own hopefully without him falling asleep as well. We finally met back up with Ellis in Jackson, Mississippi and went the rest of the way more or less together. 10 hours later we had finally arrived at the house of Ron Vernon and Susan Marchant. This trip to their house Ron had already been at Conclave so it was just Susan who graciously served us. We had pizza and ice cream, toured the house, which looked never ending, and went for a swim before going to bed. I am extremely grateful that they let us stay in their home because after the day we had a break was much needed. The next morning, we left bright and early at 7:00 so that we could make it to Oxford, Ohio in time for dinner because Alex and Jonbeth were going to get charged if they didn’t since they told Robert too late that they would be coming Saturday instead of Sunday. A thankfully uneventful drive later, we arrived at Miami University and were relieved we didn’t have to do anymore driving for another week.
Throughout the night we ran into faces old and new as we ate dinner and unpacked. It was good to see people who had coached us like Sarah Mead and people who had been at the Boston Early Music Festival like David Ellis, but it was also exciting to meet more friendly and welcoming people like Robert Bolyard. From that night alone I knew I was going to enjoy Conclave and all it had to offer. After dinner, Robert and Koren Wake, the up and coming head custos, got Alex, Jonbeth, and I to work along with the other custodes on things that had to be done before everyone arrived like setting up welcome packets. Afterwards, the room setup crew and I went through the two dorms we were staying in, Etheridge and Maplestreet Station Hall, Saturday night and Sunday morning to setup up studies and rooms that were going to be used for classes. Once that was done, we helped with check in and got to welcome everyone to Conclave. From there, each day went by almost as if on repeat and things blended together to the point it was hard remembering what day it was.
I woke up every day at 8, went to breakfast, went to First Consorts with Annalisa Pappano, then to Teusch with Brady Lanier, and finally Guinea Pigs with Sarah Mead. I found each class beneficial in their own ways. In First Consorts, I fixed my bow hold and “learned” treble clef more or less, then in Teusch I got to learn how viol was taught and played by Gerle in the early 1500’s, and finally in Guinea Pigs I got great tips on how to coach a consort if I ever wanted to and I learned alto clef. Overall, each class benefitted me greatly and they all had takeaways that I could apply to my viol playing outside of Conclave. After classes, there were other events to go to before and after dinner which we then followed with playing in consorts late into the night staying up to 1 or 2 in the morning, at least everyone else did while I bailed at about midnight since I was exhausted every day.
Besides classes and late-night consorts, the events I participated in were the Young Players’ Gathering, the lecture on Gibbons Consort Anthems, the App Release Party, the night in Oxford, the live and silent auctions, all the concerts, and lastly banquet. The Young Players’ Gathering was helpful because I got to meet the rest of the minority that is the Young Players of the VDGSA and I got to learn about opportunities offered for us like Young Players’ Weekend which I had already gone to. Then, the lecture and app release were insightful because I got to see the results of people’s hard work and dedication. Bill Hunt presented information he had gathered on the Gibbons Consorts Anthems at his lecture so that people had a historical background when they got to play them afterwards and Sarah Mead presented her new app LookHear which was still in its final stages of development but looked like it had a promising future when it finally gets released. Wednesday night I got to experience a night out in Oxford with Mr. Funes and Ellis among others. We ate at Scotty’s Brewhouse where I got an amazing burger with a side of mac n cheese. I was thrilled because we finally got to eat something that wasn’t dining hall food.
Next were the auctions. Although I didn’t buy anything, it was fun to participate in an auction because I had never been to one before. Sarah Mead and Chris Briden did a great job as auctioneers and made the auction a fun event for everyone while Anne Duranceau and her team ran everything behind the scenes. The silent auction was better for me though because I got to be more involved. I made sure people got their items and then after the auction the custodes and I organized the catalogued items into a spreadsheet and then numerically organized the papers showing the auction item and the winning buyer. Then there were all the concerts. I thought it was cool to see faculty and students alike showcase music of past and present in the three concerts at Conclave. I even got to see instruments I had never heard of before Conclave like the pardessus and concertina, or “air viol” as people liked to call it. Another mini concert I got to see was Sarah Mead’s A Walk on the Viol’d Side which was a well composed and played piece that I wish I got the opportunity to play. I wished I could have played at the student concert too but I wasn’t given an opportunity to do so. Finally, I went to the banquet. Everyone was all dressed up and had a good time on our final night together. It was exciting to see who won the golden ticket which allowed them to go to another Conclave for free and it was good to hear that the VDGSA reached its goal for the Conclave Endowment fund among other things. After a night of dining and celebration, we, myself actually included this time, played into the night before leaving Sunday for home.
Sunday morning, we packed up and headed for Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana to give Mr. Funes a chance to relive his graduate days at Indiana. We got to meet a few of his old friends who either still went to school in Bloomington or still lived there for the time being. We got to play some of the music we had with them and we had dinner at a buffet style place called Aver’s Pizza which was actually pretty good. Afterwards, we stayed the night at one of his friend’s house and then left for Oxford, Mississippi again Monday morning. We again stayed with Ron and Susan but this time Ron was there, we had soup and salad, and we actually got to play with the gambas and music they had. The bass viol I got to play had one of the coolest design I’d ever seen and an amazing sound to go along with it. I wish they let me keep it to call my own but it wasn’t meant to be. Afterwards, we did another night of swimming and ice cream before we went to bed and left Tuesday for home. This time back we actually took pictures at as many states as we could since we were in no rush. We got all of them except for Indiana which we never saw and Texas since it was raining. Finally, after another two days of travel home from Conclave we were home. We unloaded the cars and said our goodbyes since it was the last time we would see each other before our lives went their separate ways as we went off to college. This experience was one I’ll never forget and I’m thankful to Mr. Funes for encouraging me to go and have the great time I did. However, its success should also be credited to Team SPoon and the custos team of Robert Bolyard and Koren Wake because thanks to them the whole week was as smooth as possible. I’m also thankful that Mr. Funes got me into viol in the first place because had he not eased me into it I would have never gotten to discover a whole new avenue of music that was available for me to explore. Hopefully after a year into my college journey I can go to Conclave next summer and meet even more fellow viol players, but until then I hope to continue music alongside my studies and make it into a lifelong venture.