Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MidAtlantic Fleadh 2014 and CCE Convention

This year for the first time the North American CCE decided to hold their annual convention on the same weekend as the MidAtlantic Fleadh competitions. Dylan decided not to compete this year (music competition is not his thing) and then at the last minute decided he'd rather stay home….so, Haley and I left Thursday night after I finished work and drove the couple hours to a hotel so we'd be at the convention early the next morning.

Haley was signed up for two fiddle workshops on Friday with band members from Bru Boru who were the visiting entertainment for the gala dinner over the weekend. She and her friend, Alex, enjoyed the two fiddlers giving the workshops. The fiddlers had completely different styles of playing and teaching. The kids met a couple nice fiddlers from Chicago around Haley's age also attending the workshops.

Between the workshops, Haley and her friend Alanna decided to rehearse for the under 18 duet competition they decided to do together a couple weeks ago while at a session together. They had practiced the tunes individually, but it was their first chance to practice together. While they practiced in a corner of the hotel, the man who records video for Comhaltas heard them and asked them to play for him and they spent about 90 minutes playing while he recorded them together and separately. When they finished we fed them a little lunch then went to their afternoon workshops.

Swimming was the next order of business. Since the Fleadh has been held in this hotel, all the kids look forward to swimming together whenever they aren't playing music. There are many kids we only see once or twice a year but each year they play together like they see each other all the time. Haley and Alex played in the pool with their new friends from Chicago until suppertime. We caught up with Haley's friends, Emily and Livia, for ordered in pizza. The girls enjoyed pretending they were having room service. Dinner was followed by lots of music in sessions with various combinations of musicians until bedtime. We didn't stay up too late on Friday night because competitions started first thing in the morning.

Saturday was a very busy day. Haley had two competitions and she had a list of friends whose competitions she didn't want to miss. We did a lot of running around then sitting to listen. Haley's first competition was solo fiddle. There were around 20 competitors so it was a long competition. Each competitor plays two tunes in different styles. Haley had a lot of friends in her age group and it was fun to hear how they've improved over the past year!

We went from Haley's competition to the over 18 fiddle competition to watch some older friends compete then while looking for her friend, Sofia, we ran into John Whelan playing for some people in the lobby. He asked Haley to join him for some tunes which she would never tune down. They played tune after tune. Now and then an elderly man jumped up on a table to dance. Fun!

The afternoon was a blur. Haley competed in under 12 slow airs, she played in pop up sessions in the lobby, and we watched friends' competitions until about 6:30pm. Haley ended the day with her 6th straight under 12 solo fiddle championship and a 1st in slow airs.

Haley, Sofia, Grace, and John Whelan enjoying some tunes.

I had a bit of a headache all day so was happy when it was time to head to the pool for more swimming and I was able to sit and relax. While the kids finished swimming, we parents ordered food then we gathered them up to eat a late supper.

Haley, Alex, Keegan, and their trio coach Patrick
After supper, the trio did some rehearsing and Haley and Alanna did some rehearsing. We headed to the lobby to look for some late night tunes and stumbled upon a great session with John Whelan, three of the four Yanks, and many other wonderful musicians. The music was great! Haley was tired but refused to leave the music until after midnight.

Sunday was a bit more relaxed. We joined friends so the duet and trio could run through their tunes one more time.

 Haley and Alanna's duet and the kids' trio were scheduled to perform at the same time so we went to the duet judge to see if the girls could go early in the competition and when they finished found the trio. The trio played great and took 1st! The judges said they were amazing and wanted to buy their CD when it came out!

The Converse Trio and their coach Patrick
Haley was finished after the trio competition but wanted to watch the under 15 duets because her trio buddies were competing as well as Livia and Emily. Both groups sounded great. The boys took 1st in the duets!

Watching the duets.
Haley and her friends from the Delaware Valley branch of the CCE and their trophies. 
We took some photos of the kids and their trophies. The six kids competing won a total of eight 1st place cups (and two 1st places without cups donated yet) and 14 medals total! It was an amazing weekend. The couple, Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, who run the Next Generation Kids group these kids have all belonged to at one time or another were also inducted into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame for their work promoting Irish music and culture for the past 17 years.

Dinner on the way home….our Fuddrucker's tradition.
Throughout the weekend I was thinking how much I love the sense of community. I noticed so many kids running from competition to competition to cheer each other on. Even those in the same competitions were happy to see their friends do well. Haley was sad to miss some of her friends competing due to time conflicts. She felt there was barely enough time to spend with everyone she wanted to spend time with between competitions, rehearsals, eating, and sessions. I think she'd rather it be a whole week than two days long but even then she might still think there wasn't enough time. She started complaining of a sore throat on the way home and is now fighting a cold, otherwise, she would have been asking to attend last night's session here at home to keep the music going.

No comments: