Elegant Savages Orchestra

Jan 31, 2019

The Texas Tech University School of Music Celtic Ensemble, also known as the Elegant Savages Orchestra, is giving a concert this Saturday in Hemmle Hall. Chris Smith, director of the vernacular music centre at Texas Tech, is the guest on this Front Row to share more information.

Tell us about the program coming up on Saturday.

The program is the winter program of the TTU Celtic Ensemble, aka the “Elegant Savages Orchestra.” The program is on Saturday, February the second. It was originally scheduled for Sunday the third, but that has been shifted, so everyone can watch the Super Bowl halftime show.

It’s all ages, free, family-friendly, non-binary, it’s music, dance and songs of the seven Celtic Nations. It actually celebrates the literal date of one of the holidays on the Celtic calendar, which is Imbolc. Imbolc is in the Celtic calendar, the date for the beginning of spring…this holiday is the patron saint of healing, of running water, of new green, growing things and of lambs, because lambs are always born after the last hard frost.

Tell us a little bit about the Ensemble transitioning into the “Elegant Savages Ensemble.”

I was very fortunate and grateful to be invited by the then Director of the school of music to found a Celtic Ensemble—I’ve played that music ever since the 1970s. So, it was an interesting experiment in 2006 to say well, if we’re going to get an ensemble based in the university conservatory, but it’s going to play these traditional, we call them vernacular musics, how do we meet? What’s the meeting ground there?

And I’ve had wonderful musicians over the years in the Celtic Ensemble. I’ve sat down and made a list of everyone who’s been through a VMC music ensemble in the last 20 years and it’s over 500 people, who’ve literally played in ensembles. So, the Celtic ensemble for its first few years was a small ensemble of about eight or ten or twelve musicians, playing the traditional music of the seven Celtic nations, including Ireland, Scotland and Wales…

Listen to the full interview at the top of the article.