The Jane Austen Singing School for Young Ladies presented its summer concert last Sunday, July 25, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Skaneateles. Despite competition from the Antique Boat Show on the waterfront and a rock concert just across U.S. 20 from the church, the Young Ladies of the summer session--the Misses Marietta Burt, Ellie Crough, Anna and Mary Ellen Ducayne, Caroline Edinger, Christina Marshall, Olivia Sheppard, and Maren Walsh--all performed excellently under the able direction of Miss Joanna Manring.
After the concert opened with an ensemble performance of H. Harrington's "How Sweet in the Woodlands" (which your Regional Coordinator believes she recalls from the 1980 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice), each musical number was preceded by appropriate readings from either JA's works or a secondary source on JA and her times. For example, "The Spinning Wheel" by Thomas Arne was prefaced by the passage from JA's letters about the family benefactress Mrs. Knight's offer to give JA her spinning wheel ("I cannot endure the idea of her giving away her own wheel, & have told her no more than the truth, in saying that I could never use it with comfort"); "The Soldier's Adieu" by Charles Dibdin was introduced with the passage from P&P about the arrival of the militia in Meryton ("I remember the time when I liked a red-coat myself very well"); and so on.
Very appropriately in view of the Young Ladies' ages (the two youngest, the Misses Ducayne, are aged only 10 and 11!), the final reading was a series of excerpts from the Juvenilia--the delightful comic sketches JA began composing at about age 12. And rousing renditions of William Shields's "From Night till Morn" and Robert Burns's "My Love, She's But a Lassie Yet" made a lively conclusion to the program.
As your Regional Coordinator noted in her introductory remarks, it's refreshing simply that some members of the next generation can tell Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Lady Gaga, but the Young Ladies went well beyond this minimum standard. We hope that Miss Manring and the School continue their fine work for many seasons to come.
And, by a happy coincidence, JA's Juvenilia will be the topic of JASNA Syracuse's first regional meeting of the 2010-11 season, on Saturday, September 25, at 2 pm, at Books and Memories (2600 James St., Syracuse, 13206). More details about this will be given in a future post.