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NGI Recipient: Danni Tang

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Early Music Week (2017)

Danni Tang and friends at Early Music Week

Coming to Pinewoods for the CDSS Early Music Week 2017 was a fantastic experience that has added so many joys to my life. Having played harp in the Brandeis Early Music Ensemble for only a year, I had lots to learn from playing with other experienced harpists and in groups with other early musicians. I improved my harp technique in morning harps class; I practiced playing in the fast unrelenting pace of an English Country Dance band in the afternoon; and I accompanied recorders in pieces from Shakespeare’s works.

A favorite moment from camp is waking up at 7 am to serenade the campers lining up for breakfast with 2 fellow dishwashers, another harpist and a singer. We had all happened to meet the afternoon before during teatime and put together this plan. It was during that time, outside of class, in this impromptu little group, that how to improvise finally clicked for me. I loved making music while the sun rose, in the moment.

However, I went home with not only improved harp and group music skills, but quite a few new experiences that have become little passions. I’d never heard of English country dancing, but after my first night, I couldn’t wait for the next. Even though camp is over, I hope to try out contra dancing in Boston this year with some of the friends I made at camp. I had no idea what Sephardic music was until a staff member performed it in their concert, but I was entranced. I look forward to taking up the lute even more because of that experience, and now traditional Sephardic music is one of my favorite genres of music. I met so many wonderful, talented, and funny people who I will never forget. I hope to see them again soon.

I’m beyond grateful to Sarah Mead, the director of the Early Music Ensemble at Brandeis University, for telling our Ensemble about Early Music Week and encouraging me to apply, even when I thought it was too late to get a scholarship. As a college student, I would never have been able to come to EMW if it weren’t for the generosity of Pinewoods and CDSS in making the New Generation Initiative Scholarship program happen. I’ve returned to Brandeis with so much — an appreciation for Sephardic music, hoping to take up the lute, better technique and sight reading, a new harp, and an understanding of how music was played back in the “early” days for dancing, for courts, and for fun that I hope to share with my ensemble.