"Essay Contest"

OPALS presents the first essay contest: "How Owain Phyfe Touched my Life".  

From the Webmaster: the Patron (and hence Judge) of the essay contest wishes to remain anonymous. There are more than enough clues in his remarks below to reveal his identity to those who know him well. The Patron writes in the first-person, but be assured I am not he. I hope you enjoy these heartfelt reports.
Victor R. Volkman, Ye Olde Webmaster

The Patron writes:

It was and is truly an honor to read the submissions you all have sent. And it is with the utmost humility that I create an homage to you, all that encompasses what I feel is the underlying theme that embodies every single entry.

In a word; perception.

Everyone's take on Owain's influence is different, none repeat.

There is no sanction here, no bilateral lines that divide. No colored boundaries on a man made globe that cause derision.

Here we can all agree to meet, together, and raise a toast to Owain and his inamorata Lady Paula, for a job well done and celebrate a journey that continues, anon.

My thanks to all that contributed. All here are winners, trite words mine, but true.

I proffer to the aforementioned scribes;

  My sister, older by 14 months, is deaf. Since her birth.

She will never experience the annoyance of the morning alarm that beckons us to another workday.

Exception given to a miracle of modern science, she will never know the sound of a jack hammer carving it's mark into hard concrete.

The sound of a content feline is lost to her.

A freight trains whistle falls unheard.

Should I pity her?

She wakes with the vibration of her alarm.

She feels the vibration of the hammer that falls.

She savors the vibrations her cat 'Midnight' offers her when he is happy.

She knows, by the strength of the vibrations, how close the train is.

Yes, I pity her, I know for I shouldn't,....

she will never hear Owain sing.

  And now, I present, winners all........

Sir, do not think me bold, for it was you who inspires my pen.

Owain Phyfe in all my life I've not been sung a song that's made me long for days gone by, in perhaps another life. I've heard your voice before, in a place long passed away.

Did I hear you in the Royal Court as you sang sweet poetry or perhaps as an awe struck peasant in the village square, as you put the songbirds to shame.

And was it on the coast of France "Je sais que je vous ai entendu la." (I know I heard you there); As your songs brought such delight it caused the crowd to dance.

Such mastery of each heart-felt song could not be had in just one lifetime; I've heard your voice before.

These words are to express my heart-felt thanks to you traveling troubadour. For the joy you bring through every song, may your voice be heard forever.


The Patron writes:
Tammy Green, your pen is indeed inspired, be it from the muse of Owain, your talent or the hand of fate, feel free to call yourself the 'Jack of the Green' (apologies to Saint George and lesser to Jethro Tull) for you make the peasants and the Court dance in time whilst 'driving the cold winter away'! A heartfelt huzzah to you lass.

  Disillusioned by what I had seen, lost in reality of where I had been, I had hung my harp on the branch of a willow and sat beneath it to cry, but when I opened my mouth nay a word could be heard above the hypnotic sound of a chitarra battente.

I felt its strum on my belly and its echo through the hollows of my body until this empty shell was full once more. I followed the sound through time and country, through centuries, France, England and Spain. Finally landing beside him, Owain Phyfe, his voice (oh! what a voice!) was saying my name.

The lady Greensleeves, a harp to my breast, and his words wove stories between the strings and guided my hands to where they knew no rest. My ears could hear not, but him, and only visions of life from illuminated manuscripts passed before my closed eyes as each word fell from his lips.

Nay they do not fall, the words dance upon the air and carry far-- farther than that of any other bard. Does one recall the name of any else less than Homer, Dante, of Miguel de Cervantes?

Bards though they are, did the inns hear their musical words of those tales, and canciones of love, and songs of the drink, of lust for life or the finer things in life? Some passion is in the heart of a musician, that allows them to rise above all others. A voice of light has a memory all its own, fading little with time, bringing with it, guiding, its keeper.

What a way to wander the land, with song in thine heart and freedom to sing. Where I stood before, I had not the paper, nor the power to cross the borders of three continents, nor the barriers of time. Here I stand now, enriched, enlightened, illuminated. It is a life where I no longer have to be a sleep to find a time of lightness, I merely walk with my harp slung on my back and wait for the sound of his voice and a chitarra battente.

Nicole Rossi, your harp has not gone unheard, alas, it rings truer than vows cast in cathedrels. Cry not, for what do I hear? Doth thou hear it as well? For the bard is here among us. Owain's song rings through. 'I know not how to reveal to you the passions that burn deep within me.' I submit to you, milady.

  Listening to Owain's music, be it in English or Italian, transforms me to a peaceful happy time and place in my soul. The music and Owain's words has a calming effect which soothes my soul at a time when that place is hard to find and unfortunately not visited often enough. His voice is soft and soothing which allows that place in my soul to shine and I can remember once again how sweet and beautiful life can be.

The Patron writes:
Sandra Hall-Hansen, vita es grande! Is it not? Lest we forget how wonderful this life can be, indeed.

I am not entering the contest, I'm supposed to be doing something else, but I would rather write.

From the particular performance recollections dept:

My most memorable performance is not the first, the best, nor the last time I heard Owain Phyfe play and sing. It was a time when, perhaps, he should not have played at all.

This took place at Omara's Pub, maybe longer, anyway, it was during the height of Michigan flu season. Sniffling, sneezing, and glassy eyed, Phyfe clearly had dragged himself in to play his usual Thursday night slot. To my highly trained eye, jaded by too many years of nursing the sick, and those who pretend to be, it appeared he really needed to be resting somewhere. I believe Phyfe even remarked that night that "a lesser man would have stayed home".

In that moment, I saw again why I am simply a patron of the arts, and not an artist. I lack the requisite dedication, discipline and devotion to the work, whether it is music, painting, dance, whatever. Moved by this small display of his depth of commitment to the craft, I leapt to my feet and shouted, "Hey, get this guy out of here, he'll infect us all." Turning to Phyfe, I asked, "Good sir, have you no sick days left?" Actually, I hope I said none of that. I listened in quiet humility, glad he had not stayed home that night.

The Patron writes:
Maggie Boleyn, although you begged deference from the contest, I feel it necessary to address you. If , by this inclusion I cause you any discomfort, I offer my apologies. I only wish to further illuminate a trait of Lord Owain of which many not be aware.

Before I was to be wed, I asked Owain if he would, perchance, sing at the nuptials. Having his favor, I surmise, he agreed.

At the appointed hour, he unfortunately was struck down with New World fever, otherwise known as the common cold. The choice was mine whether or not he would play, he said.

He told me, he would play if I desired it. One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make was made in his families kitchen, dinner set on the table.

He retired to a warm bath to soothe his aching body, I returned home and the next day was indeed wed, without him, but in the company of his beloved Lady Paula and talented son Jamin.

Alas, the marriage to my wife did not last. But my love affair with Owain as an artist and as a friend, is eternal.

I thank you all for sharing. Perhaps this was our way of giving back a small amount of the selfish love that you give us Owain.

But then again, it's all in how you perceive it, isn't it?

Health to the company,

--a patron of Owain