2016 Summer Lyre Conference, Hadley, Massachusetts

By Wendy Polich, Bella Vista, AR – wendypolich@hotmail.com

Last summer, almost two years after taking up the lyre, I attended my first lyre conference – the International Lyre Conference in Detroit, Michigan. This summer I attended my second lyre conference in Hadley, Massachusetts. Instead of an exciting assortment of 100 lyre players, builders, and teachers from around the world, we were an intimate group of 20, mostly from just a drive away, though a handful came from the West, Midwest, Canada, and Ecuador. Another difference was the setting. We stayed at quiet Hampshire College just down the field- and flower-lined road from the Hartsbrook Waldorf School, where we shared space with cows and goats, chickens and pigs, and a children's camp. And then there was the sweltering heat, which, in addition to the smaller group and pastoral setting, seemed to slow us all down considerably.

All these factors were in a way ideal to the conference theme of Musical Renewal, with the question being, "How does the tone of the lyre move in us?" For before there can be movement, there needs to be stillness. The place, and the space we created, allowed for this. Every morning, sitting in our circle with our lyres, we passed a tone from one person to the next in such a way that deep listening could occur – listening to the tone, to how we played and freed the tone, to the space between the tones, and to each other.

We explored tone through movement, and movement through tone. We were guided in Spacial Dynamics, then Eurythmy, in back-to-back sessions every day. This had the effect of one session playing off the other, and, coupled with our heat-induced slowed pace, created quite an atmosphere of individual and group exploration. At one point we seemed to swim through a sea of tone from lyres, gongs, and other metal instruments, awakening to more deep listening with our bodies, through our gestures, and in relation to each other. An amazing experience!

Finally, an important piece of our time together was the camaraderie, and yes, sisterhood, we shared, with the exception of dear (and exceptional) Hartmut, our only male, and 90 years young! It was a joy singing together, playing together (on lyres and an assortment of metal instruments), eating together, rooming together, and even napping on sheepskins in the kindergarten together, as respite from the heat and activity.

Whether 100 strong, an intimate 20, or even fewer, so much is always gained from working and playing together!