by ECO violinist Anna Rose Welch
Like many other violinists, I’ve had several scrapes with Mother Nature. There was the wedding where it rained until 30 minutes before the wedding. As the time arrived for me to begin my prelude, the sky turned blue again, the sun came out, and so did the baby skunks. There was the summer I sat on stage at the Liberty park Amphitheater waiting to play a solo, watching as several stunned June bugs tumbled down perilously close to the my fellow performer’s head and violin.
However, one event in my history of playing violin outdoors takes the cake. In high school, I was in a string quartet with several good friends. In addition to weddings, we were often hired to play for reenactments. Dressed in crinolines, long skirts, and puffed sleeves, we were French musicians from the 1750s playing music for candlelit balls and on the battlefield for King Louis and his war-weary troops.
One summer we were hired to play at the Heritage Days in Waterford. We were set up under our tent and warming up when the dark clouds started to creep over the festival. We began our performance, appropriately, with some of Handel’s Water Music and the heavens chose that moment to open up. We continued to play as the water came down, expecting that the storm would wear itself out in a couple of minutes. Ten minutes of hard rain later, water was pouring down in waterfalls from the corners of the tent. It rose up over our shoes. The cellist’s endpin started to sink down into the earth as though we were sitting on quick sand. Luckily, we had kept our cases in the trunk of one of our cars, safe from submersion in the deluge. But, of course, this also meant we were stuck in the middle of a sinking tent, 100 percent humidity, and there didn’t seem to be a way we could get the instruments back to their cases without leaving the tent and soaking them in the process. And the rain didn’t seem interested in letting up. Ever.
It took some serious brainstorming, and desperation, but we could only see one way out. We reserved the best extraction methods for our instruments, of course — an umbrella would not have been enough. So, one by one, the instruments disappeared under our first violinist’s voluminous skirt. She was then escorted under an umbrella to the van where she packed the instruments away in their cases. For obvious reasons, the cello was the most difficult to save from drowning, but I cannot emphasize just how tent-like these skirts were.
Luckily, all of our instruments were perfectly fine, though it did take three days of my violin sitting out in my living room to begin sounding like itself again.