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NGI Recipient: Zoe Crafton

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Early Music Week (2019)

I did not know what to expect when I first stepped foot onto the needle-covered brambles and winding paths laden with pine cones. In fact, it was clear I did not know what to expect in the least as I dragged my overly large suitcase (packed to the brim and prepared for anything) over root and rock. All I knew was that I was 26-years old and going back to camp; more specifically, to my utter wonder and excitement, Early Music camp!

Incidentally over the last couple years, I found myself occasionally slipping into nostalgia recalling summers spent at a lovely, large camp in my home state of Indiana as a child. In those days, horses were my obsession. Thus, it was horse camp every summer from ages 9 to 13. My current and lasting obsession lies in the world of Early Music as a singer exploring 500 years’ worth of music from the convent of Hildegard von Bingen to the church services of J.S. Bach.

One of the perks of being a singer is the ability to carry your instrument with ease, whether in a grand concert hall or the front porch of a camp cabin. Working with Michael Barrett and Sarah Mead in the Accademia program was fun and challenging. I found the afternoon session to be a rigorous growing experience. Over the course of the week, the singers worked through a large, poignant collection of 21 madrigals based on poetry depicting the pain and torment of Peter’s denial of Christ. Singing Orlando di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro with six others, each on their own part, on a small porch surrounded by pine trees is unlike any other musical experience in my performing life thus far.

While I had the privilege to hone my craft, I was nervous and excited to try something new: English country dancing. I would like to share 3 take-aways from the classes and nightly dances:

  1. I am no longer afraid of English country dancing (a.k.a. the fear of the unknown)
  2. My legs were sore, so clearly I was using muscles in dancing that I do not use in my daily life.
  3. I am hooked on English country dancing!

I live in Cambridge, MA, just a few minutes from Harvard Square. I am very pleased to share that I will be attending the Country Dance Society’s events on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month!

Attending the CDSS Early Music Week at Pinewoods Camp was a belated, albeit fateful, decision. I was able to attend camp in part due to the connections I made at my last Early Music festival, but most importantly thanks to the generous NGI scholarship. This week was both a learning experience as well as a relaxing time for me to revitalize my mind and body before the new school year.

My favorite memory will be from the very last day. I tripped and skinned my knee before lunch, I washed and stacked dishes after the meal, and I headed straight to the Accademia presentation to sing. My performance attire consisted of shorts, t-shirt, a skinned knee, and the slight dampness of dishwater. I sang music from the late Renaissance in a camphouse overlooking the clearest lake I have ever seen. It was a little slice of heaven. Thank you for that privilege.

I am grateful for the opportunity, and when I am making my way through the cold Boston streets this winter, I will dream of a sunny day on the pier of Short Pond.