Saturday, August 15, 2015

Studio2Stage 2015 then some downtime...

Haley and Dylan at dress rehearsal.
It's been awhile since I blogged. July was an incredibly busy month. We spent four days home, during which I worked all day long, after Swannanoa then the following Friday, I took Haley and Dylan up to Kean University for Studio2Stage 2015.

Haley did Studio2Stage last year and had the time of her life. She even talked Dylan into going this year by appealing to his love of music ("Dylan there are 80 beautiful dancers and only a few boys.")….he did not regret the decision to go one bit.

In the six weeks prior, they learned and practiced all the tunes and songs for the show together. Some were the same as last year and others were newly composed. Haley helped Dylan with figure out the arrangements and how it was all supposed to sound.

They spent the first few days at camp working with the other band member on the arrangements, harmonies, back up vocals,  etc…By Tuesday, they had all the music ready to go and the rest of the week they performed the music for the dancers and worked out their stage arrangements in rehearsals leading up to the shows on Sunday.

Photo by James Greenan, dancer extraordinaire!
It was work but also a lot of fun. One night they had a quiz night and divided the kids onto teams then gave out prizes. Another night was an Oscar's Night where everyone dressed up and they handed out awards then had a dance and pizza. Last year, Haley was too young to stay on campus so I went back each night and picked her up. We stayed with friends who live five minutes from campus. This year they had no problem with her being on campus so she had a room but I still went and picked her up a few nights so she'd get some sleep.

Boys at Oscar's Night.

Girls at Oscar's Night.

On Friday, I joined them on their trip to New York City. Yes, they trudged 90-something young dancers and musicians onto the train from NJ to NYC, then we walked to Times Square where they performed a number in the middle of Times Square (which luckily ended just as a police officer began to question the man in charge), then back to the train and Kean University. There's a little video of the train ride at the end of this post!!! Fun!!!
The musicians in NYC…

 Eventually the week had to come to an end. They did a dress rehearsal on Saturday then two shows on Sunday. The shows were fabulous! My son, who was reluctant to go to camp initially, now would love to tour the world with an Irish dance show.

Musicians after the show!

This year we were unable to swing the trip to Ireland for the All Ireland competition. We are watching it and enjoying it vicariously through Facebook and rooting for friends who are over there competing this weekend. Without the trip, our August is fairly quiet and calm for a change. Last weekend we actually had an entire day and a half home to clean and catch up on things. I planned the school year for the kids (I'll post that in another post) as well.

Last Sunday afternoon, Haley joined Miss Kathy at the Jersey Fresh Festival where she had a great time (and got over her fear of large furry costumed things) fiddling for the Philly Phanatic…

 This weekend we are home…though we might just sneak into the city for a session tomorrow since my kids can't be away from Irish music too long without going through withdrawal.

The kids' keep marking their wall calendar when we receive notice their album is being played on the radio in different locations. Last weekend, their music was heard as far as Western Canada, Hawaii, and Australia!!!

Studio2Stage takes NJTransit with Liam O'Sullivan, Haley Richardson Haley Richardson Music), Dylan Richardson, Alex Weir, Michelle Lee, Jim Murrihy, Anthony Davis, Aidan Garvey, Miriam Lee
Posted by Donna Richardson on Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Swannanoa 2015

This July started out with our yearly trip to North Carolina for Swannanoa Gathering. We broke up the trip this year with a couple days in the beautiful mountains of Virginia visiting Haley's friend, Kitty, and her mother, Noel. Haley experienced her very first Old Time jam, we took a hike in the local park looking for beautiful spots, stopped to see Wayne Henderson's guitar shop, and barbecued. 

Haley's first Old Time jam experience.
Cool tree at Grayson Highland State Park!
What a view!!!
From the mountains of Virgina, we drove through Bristol, TN and made a quick stop to see our friend, Tom, for lunch and a walk through the Bristol Sessions museum. The museum was being built last year when we were in Bristol so we were excited to see the finished product. It was a really neat museum.

From Bristol, we went to Knoxville, TN to spend the night so we'd be there the following morning. The kids played on the WXPN Blue Plate Special to promote their new CD. 

After the kids' "gig," we had lunch with friends then drove to Asheville, TN for a house concert featuring Open the Door for Three. If you haven't heard this trio and like Irish music, then find them and listen. They put on a wonderful show! After the show there was sessioning and Haley had a chance to fiddle around on Liz's Hardanger fiddle for awhile. She loved the instant accompaniment the drone strings provided!

Sunday we woke and headed over to Swannanoa Gathering. I love doing volunteer work and get to help out with registration all day on Sunday then take a period in the office each day. Swannanoa is our favorite week each year. We look forward to seeing our Swannie family and the kids favorite part is staying up nearly all night playing tunes with fabulous World Class musicians. I don't think Haley and I slept more than 4-5 hours each night and she helped out in the early morning guitar accompaniment class by fiddling tunes for them so had to be up early every day. Not quite sure how she ran on so little sleep all week but she was always ready to go the next day. Here are some pics of the week.

Dylan chilling between classes.

Porch session with John Doyle watching Dylan and Quinn on guitar.

2:30am session in Bryson gym.

St. Clair impromptu house session with Liz and John.
Haley helping out with the ceili band. Can you see her in the back behind Cillian?
Haley with John, Kevin, and Quinn.

Haley had great fun meeting Quinn again and sharing tunes!
Alan, Haley, Liz, and Dylan at doing a performance at the Student Showcase.
John invited Haley to play with him and Eamon on stage for the final staff concert of the week.

Haley was very single-minded in her pursuit of great playing opportunities at camp. She never wanted to leave if a session was going strong no matter how early in the morning. Dylan had the perfect roommate for him during the week. Both boys liked to stay out nearly all night and play tunes. He made a few really good friends this year. Even though we barely slept, the week went by way too quickly and we were headed back north.

We stopped to see my new baby grand-nephew and his brother (my 1st grand-nephew) on our way north. Then drove about halfway home because the kids were invited to play on a radio show in Charlottesville, VA (WTJU).

WTJU radio program host Peter with Haley and Dylan.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Logging Miles…and Hours of Music

A bag of goodies!!
Two weekends ago was a weekend of sessions. Haley attended three sessions in as many days, played a CD release concert gig for her friend, Andy Lamy (who's CD The New Blackthorn Stick she appeared on), took a fiddle lesson, performed in a classical violin concert, and practiced.

She logged in over 18 hours of violin/fiddle playing in three days!!

This weekend was a weekend of festivals. Fun, fun, fun!!! We had a bit of a taste of what it is like to be touring musicians. Ha!

We drove to Glen Rock, PA Friday afternoon and were welcomed at our hotel with a huge bag full of snacks courtesy of the Penn-Mar Irish Festival. We had a few hours before a scheduled Skype fiddle lesson for Haley so we went over to the festival grounds to help set up wherever we were needed. We set up chairs in the main stage tent, brought out mannequins for t-shirt sales, and filled sandbags needed to hold down the tents in the wind. Dylan also rode around helping set up buckets filled with sand to hold up the fencing around the festival grounds.

We drove back to the hotel in time for Haley to do a bit of practicing then she had a Skype lesson with Brian before we walked to dinner at a nearby restaurant. After our late dinner, we hung out in our room and watched some TV before bed.

Haley and Dylan were part of the Next Generation performance at the festival in the morning so we had breakfast at our hotel with John Whelan and Mairtin de Cogain then drove to the festival grounds for a sound check. Festival attendance tends to increase as the day goes on, so mornings at a festival tend to be a bit quiet. There was a nice sized crowd for the Next Generation performances though, and the kids did a great job.

Haley was interviewed for the local news station.

Haley got a picture with the friendly festival devil.

John asked them to play with him for his set as well so we hung around for a bit then went back to the hotel for a couple hours (it was really hot and humid outside and Haley wanted to practice her classical music) before going back to the festival grounds to see our friends, Burning Bridget Cleary, perform before John's set.

I used to get nervous when Haley was younger and didn't know exactly what she was doing before going on stage but at this point, Haley is a professional (Dylan as well). She can get up on stage, play whatever she needs to play on the fly, and give a great performance. John came in a few minutes before the sound check and the three of them, along with Pete (BBC's percussionist), put on a great show!

We left the festival for some supper as the rain clouds started rolling in. By the time we were finished dinner, it was raining heavily and late. We went to bed a little earlier than usual so we could get up in the morning for our four hour ride to Fairfield, CT in the morning.

After an early morning breakfast, Haley and I followed John and Dylan to Connecticut.

We arrived at the Fairfield County Festival a couple hours before the kids' set with John. We watched some local Irish dancers then local young musicians, got a short lesson on speaking Irish, looked at the Irish merchandise, had some ice-cream, then it was time to play.

John, Haley, and Dylan played an awesome set and received two standing ovations!!

We sold some CDs, met with the "fans," then walked over to the main stage to watch a bit of The Elders (Haley wanted to listen to her friend, Colin, playing fiddle with them) before grabbing some burgers then driving through a thunderstorm to get home.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Classic-al Haley

I rarely blog about Haley's classical music anymore.

Haley has a lukewarm relationship with classical music.

She knows continuing her study of classical music improves her overall violin/fiddle technique.
She practices faithfully for hours each day on her own...though she often says she would not be sad if she never had to play another etude or scale again.
Sometimes she talks about doing only Irish music then in the next moment decides to continue classical as well.

She loves the challenge of learning new pieces though it has been quite a while since she was really passionate about a new piece. When she had her last lesson of the "school year" with her teacher this year, he told her to begin learning Bach Partita in D minor and she was excited. She did some listening and began playing the first movement then decided she really liked the second movement so began playing that, too.

She was excited to have her first summer lesson with her previous, long-time classical violin teacher because she had mentioned beginning a certain piece at the concert on Sunday. When we arrived on Monday afternoon, her teacher had changed her mind about which piece to begin and Haley was a little thrown but, by the end of the lesson, she was completely on board.

She has listened to it played by many different musicians and listened carefully marking their dynamics so she can compare and contrast their different takes on the piece. She has practiced much more each day than usual using her Dr. Beat for rhythm or droning for intonation. She has even been caught singing it at odd times during the day. (I cannot remember the last time I caught her absentmindedly singing a classical piece.)

Today, every time she picked up her fiddle to play fiddle tunes at an outdoor event we attended all day, it became a violin first for a little while as she played through the two pages she had memorized the day after she began practicing the piece.

The piece she is thrilled to be playing…..

Sometimes I wonder how much longer Haley will happily take classical violin lessons...then moments like this happen to remind her how many really cool pieces there are out there for her to learn.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Where Have We Been??

I realized last night I hadn't blogged in a few weeks.

I've been a little busy.

I have spent most of my weeknights researching and contacting Celtic radio stations around the world then mailing out copies of Haley and Dylan's CD for airplay to those who reply (and a number who hear about their music and contact me). These are some of my new "mom-ager" duties. We purchased a world map to hang on the wall that has pins to place where their music is being played. When it arrived, they had fun putting in the pins.

Since the MidAtlantic Fleadh, Haley and Dylan were interviewed by Denise Foley at Irish Philadelphia who wrote a nice article about them and their new album. Haley was also interviewed by a fairly major music publication (though she doesn't want me to let anyone know until the article is published, we think sometime this winter, but she's very excited because it is one we receive and read cover to cover).

They performed for Vineland Community Day and the re-enactors from Founder's Day the day prior allowed her to shoot off a cannon. The night before Founder's Day, there is a campfire evening because re-enactors camp for the weekend on the grounds. I took Haley over to talk to the re-enactors and play some tunes with the musicians there.

They did a CD release mini-concert then hosted the session at the IAANWJ the following weekend. There was a good sized, appreciative crowd of music lovers so they had a blast performing then sharing tunes with the other musicians.

Here's a video the woman who hosted them, Iris, took at the event… (this is the first track of their CD).

Last weekend they played some tunes between dance numbers at the Fitzpatrick School of Irish Dance-Sellersville Branch's end of year dance show. This is their 4th year doing this and they look forward to it every year.

Last night, Dylan went to the prom of the high school he used to attend before coming home to homeschool. He had a great time. He and his date, Sophia, looked fabulous!!

Tonight, Haley and I head up to north Jersey to a CD release event for a CD she recorded a couple of tracks on. Our friend, Andy Lamy, recorded a CD of Irish music on clarinet called The New Blackthorn Stick and invited some of the world's best Irish musicians to collaborate with him. Haley was honored to be included and she provided fiddle on a slow air and another set of tunes. Tonight they will perform a concert then after the concert we'll head around the corner for a session. She is really excited to be able to play with the musicians who will be there.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

MidAtlantic Fleadh 2015 in Pictures...

This past weekend was the 2015 MidAtlantic Fleadh, one of Haley's favorite weekends of the year. The following picture essay will show you why she has so much fun there! This weekend we arrived Thursday night. Haley took a singing workshop on Friday while I volunteered.

She hung out with her good friends, Emily and Livia, laughing at some videos after dinner….

She recorded for Willie Fogarty of Willie has been recording Haley every time we see him since he first heard her play at a MidAtlantic Fleadh when she was seven years old. This year she recorded a couple sets with her friend Jayne, who placed 1st in Under 18 solo fiddle this year, recorded a set by herself, and recorded a couple sets with her duet (and Méara Meara bandmate) Keegan, who took 1st in under 18 uilleann pipes, uilleann pipe slow airs, and tin whistle slow airs…yes, he's an amazing musician!

Friday night there were sessions late into the night….

Sessions with Keegan and Haley's CD producer John Whelan.
Sessions with uilleann pipers, Joey and Patrick (also the kids trio/duet coach) 
Sessions with Jeanne, Patrick, and Aaron.
 Saturday was solo competition day! There were 34 fiddlers in Haley's age group for solo fiddle. The competition took 3.5 hours. Haley placed 1st in under 15 solo fiddle (yes, she has finally aged out of under 12…we figured out she has owned the under 12 solo fiddle trophy for half her life so far). She also took 2nd in fiddle slow airs…her friend, Joanna took 1st playing a couple lovely slow airs!

Haley with teacher, Brian Conway!

She watched some of her friends' competitions and went swimming with her friends then in the evening we ordered Chinese takeout and the kids rehearsed for their trio and duet competitions. Haley helped her duet/trio coach, Patrick, figure out how to use his new iPhone….

In return, he gave her an uilleann pipes lesson…Haley's reaction when she first got sound out of those pipes…priceless!!

After rehearsals it was off to Saturday night sessions until the wee morning hours. Saturday night the session consisted of all young teens with the occasional adult sitting in…so much fun watching them interact and make music together!

Sunday morning was duet and trio competition day. Haley and Keegan took 2nd in under 18 duets.

The Converse Trio took 1st in under 18 Trios…there was some great competition in both events (I have no idea how judges even decide).

After the competitions and a bit of socializing, Haley and I drove to White Plains for a Pride of New York Mother's Day concert…we never get tired of hearing them!

Haley shared her trophy with the composer of her Fleadh jig, Billy…

Here's a little video of Haley practicing her jig for the Fleadh a couple months ago. She changed the key from the original key…she was playing it in 5 different keys at one point trying to decide which she liked best. She had added in quite a few more variations by competition time but this will give you an idea of what it sounded like. It's great little jig…

We spent the night in White Plains Sunday night then drove home Monday morning. On the ride home, a friend contacted us to let us know Haley and Dylan's track on earned the #1 spot on their Top 20 Traditional Tracks for April 2015. We were home for 30 minutes before driving to Philly for a violin lesson then to the Monday night session with Dylan…because four days of Irish music is just not enough.