TTU HomeTechAnnounce


Printer friendly format


TTU Celtic Ensemble / The Elegant Savages Orchestra

Saturday, April 27, 7:30pm

Hemmle Recital Hall

About this Program

Includes dances, listening tunes, and songs in English, French, and Irish, from England, Ireland, France, Scotland, and Bassanda. Includes original choreographies of Bassandan folkloric weapons and social dances, French café music, a hard-shoe sean-nós trio, tales of heroes, poachers, maids, gypsies, and witches, and a collaboration with the mighty TTU Women’s Chorale.

About the Music

The Elegant Savages Orchestra is a “folk chamber orchestra” of winds, brass, strings, percussion, folkloric instruments, voices, and dancers, focusing upon the dance music and song of northern and western Europe and of the mysterious country of Bassanda. A major resource is the cluster of music and dance styles known, in contemporary Western Europe, as “BalFolk” (literally, “folk-dance”). BalFolk is a modern phenomenon, part of a new wave of European “revivals” which has transformed expectations about who plays which regional folk styles and what that playing means. At the center of the revival is the dynamic interplay between musicians and dancers, and the emotional community created by the dancing.

The Elegant Savages Orchestra
Dr Christopher Smith, director

Aaron Amaya (trumpet); Cameron Baker (mandolin); Brynn Bednarz (trumpet); Heather Beltz (flute [winds section leader, straw boss]); Jaclyn Bush (voice, dance [dance captain]); Olivia Currier (voice, dance [dramaturge]); Anna Delay (voice, dance); Garrett Franks (bassoon); Jessica Fuentes (flute); Karson Goggans (ASL interpreter); Hannah Gossett (voice, dance [co-section leader]); Courtney Gragson (trumpet [section leader]); Tess Greenlees (flute); Madison Haberl (horn, dance); Narsis Holmes (clarinet); Dalton Huebner (trombone [euphonium]); Fallon Huff (horn); Jeremy Isley (drum-set [percussion captain]); Lizzie Jackson (oboe); Alexander Kolb (trumpet); Alexandra LaGrone (voice, dance); Noelle LaGrone (voice, dance); Jordan Langehennig (oboe, whistle, pipes, accordion); Lilah Ma (double bass, acrobatics);  Kaitlyn Martinez (horn, dance); Hussein Masimbi (percussion); Clinton McDuff (voice, dance); Emmalynn McQueen (voice, dance); Asa Meyer (voice, dance); AJ Musella-Gonzales (trombone [section leader]); Jamie Nielson (horn); Christian Pennington (saxophone [tenor]); Gillian Quiggle (clarinet); Cedrik Rau (cello); Maria Rodriguez (fiddle); Isaiah Rodriguez (saxophone [baritone]); Marshall Rogers (tuba); Julia Rulon (trombone); Allison Sessom (flute); Stephanie Shelton (fiddle); Elisa Shiller (voice, dance [section leader]); Jaxon Stallings (clarinet [bass]); Steve Stallings (guitar [section leader]); Christopher Stockdale (saxophone [soprano]); Kaitlyn Swecker (voice, dance);  Clayton Thomas (trombone); Aissa Torres (saxophone [alto] [section leader]) Nick Watkins (euphonium) Callie Watson (fiddle, voice)

websites: a/k/a

About Bassanda and the Elegant Savages Orchestra

Major inspiration for the Elegant Savages Orchestra, the “big band” version of the TTU Celtic Ensemble, comes from the fictional country of “Bassanda,” a creation of Taos-based musicians and VMC partners Chipper Thompson ( and Roger Landes (, who for purposes of our January 2014 debut assumed their Bassanda personae (“The Rev” and “The General”) as guest performers. We imagined the fictional “Elegant Savages Orchestra,” in which, as part of an “alternate-history” frame, it’s alleged that a Soviet satellite’s official state folkloric ensemble (the “Bassanda National Radio Orchestra”) mutates, after the fall of Communism, into a free-lance ensemble engaged in a Never-Ending Tour. The BNRO/ESO has thus been heard in many permutations and with widely variegated personnel, including “The Classic 1952 Band,” “The 1962 ‘Beatnik’ Band” (which nearly appeared on the cover of Life magazine under the headline “New Currents from Behind the Iron Curtain”), “The 1965 Newport Folk Festival Band,” who helped jump-start Bob Dylan’s notorious switch in that year from acoustic folk to electric rock & roll, “The Mysterious 1885 Victorian ‘Steampunk’ Band,” and “The Great Southwestern Desert post-Apocalyptic ‘Sand Pirates’ Band.” In the 2018-19 season, we bring you “L'orchestre ‘vodun’ créole de la Nouvelle-Orléans 1912.”

ABOUT The 1912 New Orleans Creole “Voodoo” Band a/k/a “The Ghost Band”

The line of descent from the earlier “Steampunk” and “Sand Pirates” Bands to the 1912 New Orleans Band, whose images and documentation represent one of the more recently-unearthed bodies of uncatalogued period material in the Miskatonic Archives, is not known. Thus it is unclear whether the experience of the “Creole/Voodoo” Band again involved time/space Rift travel, skipping from the c1885 American Southwest—or possibly from the c1881 qaerda bol’sa (parallel quantum “where-when”) of the post-Apocalyptic Great Southwestern Desert—or whether perhaps the Band, or only some members thereof, may have passed a contiguous though as yet undocumented three decades in early 20th Century North America. Certainly, there are reports of various persons in the Bassanda orbit being present in the American West between the mid-1880s and the pre-WWI period, and there was a presence of Friends of Bassanda in North America, particularly in the southern and western States, in the decades just before and after 1900, but how directly this impacted the survivors of the 1881 and 1885 Bands is unknown at this time. Again: was this because the Band itself had disintegrated: had members scattered, across space and time? Had they again inadvertently Rift-shifted en masse, to yet another (as yet undocumented) qaerda bol’sa? Alternatively, and more mundanely, had they maintained time/space continuity, but simply gone underground? Or—more hypothetically (although, in the Bassanda Orbit, it is a mistake to too-readily ascribe either hypothetical or fictional status to seemingly incongruous narratives)—had they received messages that, perhaps due to pan-Rift risk, they should scatter, remove themselves from historical visibility, and reconvene on the lowermost Mississippi? The risks of such Rifting Events—the unpredictability of their occurrence and impact, in the pre-Hazzard-Igniti era—made them dangerous zones and events.


Related correspondence, personal biographies, timelines, galleries & archival commentary can be found at:; likewise search Facebook for “Elegant Savages Orchestra.”

Special thanks as always to Director Kim Walker, and the students, faculty, and staff of the Texas Tech University School of Music.

The Journal of the Vernacular Music Center, a partnership of the VMC, the Texas Tech University Press, and the TTU Libraries, is an online, peer-reviewed, biannual periodical whose thematic focus is vernacular music and dance research and pedagogy, particularly in the context of university education. The Journal is available for online reading and for free download at

You can always check in on Vernacular Music Center events at the live Google calendar:

VMC photographers: Dr Tiffany Holmes, Adolfo Estrada, Heather Beltz

Brewmasters: Milhouse Brewing Co.

ASL interpreter: Karson Goggans

Unit patch designer: Payton Massey

VMC Movement Director: Anne Wharton


The Vernacular Music Center Scholarship at Texas Tech University
The competitive Vernacular Music Center Scholarship at Texas Tech University, which provides financial assistance to a student in the College of Visual and Performing Arts who is a practitioner of one or more traditional performance idioms. For more information, please be in touch with Dr Christopher Smith at

The VMC Outreach Scholars Program helps fund young performers of great promise for attendance at workshops, summer camps, and festivals, in order that they may develop teaching skills to share in future with their communities.

To find out more about the Outreach Scholars, and for news & information on VMC events: visit

Can I participate?

Yes! If you are interested in participating in one of the VMC ensembles or partners (Celtic Ensemble, Early Music Ensemble, Irish Set Dancers, Caprock Morris, Vernacular Performance Collective, Mbira Group, Elegant Savages, Mysterium (free improvisation), Tango Orchestra, Mariachi Los Matadores, or other), feel free to contact their respective directors (see Auditions typically occur in the first weeks of each academic semester.

VMC Staff

Founding Director: Dr Christopher J Smith

Associate Director: Roger Landes

Administrative assistants: Adolfo Estrada, Heather Beltz

Follow us on Social Media at


Radio Broadcast & Television Recording

We are recording live today, and we appreciate your participation and your patience! However, because of this, we ask you to power-down (e.g., completely shut-off) electronic devices including cell phones, and to avoid any extraneous noise during the performance.

Notice Regarding Electronics
Please refrain from use of flash photography during this concert. Such use is an infringement of TTU copyright policy and represents a safety hazard for performers. Thank you for your consideration.

The Vernacular Music Center at the TTU School of Music
The mission of the Vernacular Music Center is to provide a center for in-depth and comparative research, study, teaching and advocacy on behalf of the world's vernacular musics and dance—their construction, history, and role in defining cultural life in human communities—in all cultures and historical periods. The VMC is dedicated to the study of the process by which music is taught and passed on within a community, as well as assisting in the ongoing cultivation of arts on the South Plains. The VMC partners with its 501c3 partner, the Roots Music Institute (

Become a Friend of the VMC! 
Visit us at for more information!
Donations:, search “Celtic Ensemble VMC Gifts”



Chris Smith


School of Music

Event Information
Time: 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Event Date: 4/27/2019

Hemmle Recital Hall, School of Music