Last weekend was very culturally engaging for both girls; Glory had her third-ever feis or Irish dancing festival on Saturday, and Fenya's Cantilon Choirs had their spring concert on Sunday.
Glory took a silver medal this time out; I was unable to go as I was ferrying Fenya to rehearsals, but in all honesty, I was more proud of her performance in February where she didn't get a single prize. It's not that I spurn recognition or anything like that, but she was really under the weather in February, and the fact that she was able to finish a single event, let alone the six she was entered in, and that we got to watch her guts her way through the end of her second last jig when even a stranger could tell she had nothing at all left in the tank made me far prouder than any medal or trophy would have.
It's a lovely medal, and it made her happy because now she has "one of each colour." She also brought some of her birthday money along and bought her very own claddagh from one of the merchants at the feis.
Obviously I am always very happy when my offspring embrace the Irish portion of their heritage, but the symbology of the claddagh made it problematic for me as a father. You see, the claddagh design features hands, a heart and a crown, signifying friendship, love and loyalty, respectively, and as such, the claddagh is often used as a wedding band. Audrey and I have a pair from Ireland we bought for each other as a tenth anniversary gift, which may be a part of why Glory wants her own.
Now, I suggested that she where the band with the crown pointed outwards, the same as a married person would, showing that her all her love is for her family at this time, but how would a stranger know this? Wearing the claddagh with the heart pointing towards the end of the finger signifies that the wearer is unattached (which obviously wounds me deeply as her da, being most decidedly attached), but not necessarily, you know, 'out there'. In the end, she and Audrey decided this last way made the most sense and if they're happy, then I'm happy. Because that's just how it works.
Fenya's concert was brilliant as always. There were a number of songs I liked, but my favourite for a while now is "Bonny Wood Green", a melancholy romantic ballad from the Emerald Isle that they sang as a farewell for the retiring manager of the choir.
If you like the sound of it, I understand their entire catalogue is on iTunes now.
I'm amazed at the range in the music they cover, from language to culture, to song types and tempo to subject matter. One of their other concert selections was "Der Wasserman" by Robert Schumann, a terrifying tale about a charming merman who lures young maidens to the middle of a river, either to drown them or to take them as his brides. As creepy as it is (or perhaps because of this) Fenya loves it.
Cantilon is going to Wales to compete in the Eisteddfodd festival in July, which is less than two months away now; when the heck did this happen? It will be a bit of a slog in places, and the competition promises to be intense, so it has the potential to be a real character-builder for Fenya. They are also doing some touristy things as well, so I am sure she will have a great time and bring back a ton of stories.
Even if it never becomes a part of their adult livelihoods, I am very grateful for the opportunities they've had to participate in the arts; to rehearse and perfect and practice and compete and perform. They are learning a great deal more than songs and dances.