Gentle Shepherd

50 3Arts supporters
$6,042 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on June 24, 2016
    • 121% contributed

The Gentle Shepherd is the first Scottish “folk opera” ever written, published in 1725 by the poet Allan Ramsay. I first happened upon this work by accident while sifting through a bunch of Scottish folk music. As a baroque violinist and bluegrass fiddler, I was immediately intrigued to find an opera in which the arias are fiddle tunes, some of which are still played today in jams!  Discovering this unique, historic fusion of my two worlds—baroque and folk music—prompted me to research further and made me fall more in love with the work. In collaboration with my esteemed colleagues and members of the Bach & Beethoven Ensemble, we will produce and perform the Gentle Shepherd for the first time in the U.S. since 1798, which will also be the first time ever in Chicago. Funds from this campaign will help us put on this ambitious production, involving an ensemble and cast of 16, that will take place at the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Szold Hall on September 24. Your donations are a major part of bringing this unique work and rare merging of Italian Baroque and Scottish fiddling in the form of a “folk opera” to life!

About This Project

The Gentle Shepherd is a story about love, the pursuit of happiness in life, and finding out what matters most. Set in the Scottish Lowlands just outside of Edinburgh (where it was first performed), the story unfolds around two shepherd couples: Patie (the Gentle Shepherd) and Peggy; and Jenny and Roger. Patie and Peggy are in love, and Jenny and Roger are in a constant battle of cat and mouse, before finally Jenny yields and gives her love to Roger. Patie, raised and thought to be only a lowly shepherd, is now of age and is paid a mysterious visit by his estranged father pretending to be a fortune teller. His father “fortells” that he will become royalty, and then dramatically unveils his identity as Sir William with the lifting of his fake beard. The reunion between father and son is sweet, until Sir William forbids Patie to marry Peggy because she is common. However, through a series of hilarious events, including pranks that involve two old ladies dressing up as a witch and a ghost to teach a wayward man a lesson, it is revealed that Peggy is also of noble blood, rescued as an infant from her neglectful aristocratic family from afar, and placed on her uncle’s doorstep under his tender, loving care. The opera concludes with a joyous celebration of love and marriage. On a side note, Allan Ramsay is like the Frank Capra of his day, taking great pains to emphasize the importance of literacy and education, and depicting the poor as intelligent folk with genuine heart. 

We have translated the script, and are consulting on Scottish diction, costuming, and staging. With each step into the process of delving further into the music and text, I am deepening my artistic practice in both the baroque and folk music worlds and discovering more and more connections through these genres. I have also learned a lot about Scottish culture, diction, and have made many friends along the way, including the Chicago Scots, which is North America’s largest Scottish cultural organization.  Additionally, the Gentle Shepherd will be produced in large part through a summer residency at the Old Town School of Folk Music, kicking off at the beginning of July with a series of workshops and open rehearsals and culminating in the final performance on September 24. This will provide in-kind use of the performance space, audio and visual recording of the performance, marketing, and technical support.

Funds from the campaign will go towards artist fees, staging, costumes, and set design. Your donations will help produce this unique opera that is a testament to the Scottish folk and Baroque traditions, and embodies the heart and soul of my artistic practice.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    personal shout out on social media and acknowledgement in the program ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    above, plus two tickets to the in-progress showings/open rehearsals that will take place at the Old Town School of Folk Music as part of our residency ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    above, plus two tickets to the final performance with VIP seating and an autographed poster from the entire cast ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    above, plus a copy of the audio/video recording of the live performance ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    above, plus a Scots song dedicated to you and sung at intermission at the final performance ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    above, plus a house concert of Baroque and Scottish music ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Brandi Berry Benson

Gertrude E. Grisham Awardee

Violinist and 3Arts awardee Brandi Berry Benson, whose "four-string acrobatics" and "indispensable skill" (TimeOut Chicago) have been praised as "alert [and] outstanding" (Chicago Classical Review), as her "riffs.. powered by a flashing blur of bow arm, …

View Brandi Berry Benson's profile
  • Update 1: Thank you so much! We are off to a great start!!
    Posted on May 10, 2016


    Update 2: Thank you Michael, Chris, and Linda for your amazing contributions!!! I am both honored and grateful beyond words!
    Posted on May 10, 2016


    Update 3: Thank you Laury for your generous contribution and continued support over the years!!
    Posted on May 11, 2016


    Update 4: Many Many thanks to Ahsan, Sonia, Chris, Eric, and Uncle George and Aunt Linda!! We are now over the 1/4 mark in just 48 hrs!!!
    Posted on May 12, 2016


    Update 5: Special thanks to J&C (aka Joe and Cheryl :) and also Michael Miles for their generous contributions! Thank you all of you Old Town School folks!!!
    Posted on May 16, 2016


    Update 6: We are almost to our first 1/3 in just under a week!!! Thank you so much all!!!
    Posted on May 16, 2016


    Update 7: A big thank you to Scott Lundius, Lisa Flynn, Janice Williams, and my grandma Gloria!!
    Posted on May 16, 2016


    Update 8: We are now over the 1/3 mark and 3Arts as matched us! We are now 67% funded in just under a week!!!!!
    Posted on May 16, 2016


    Update 9: Another round of big thanks to Marion Mitchell, Anna Jacobson, and Sarah and Coco Romano!!! Thank you so much for your support!! We can't wait to share this performance with all of you!!
    Posted on May 17, 2016


    Update 10: I am floored by the support of so many folks at the Old Town School and my family. In just a week we are nearly 3/4 of the way funded, and I owe it all to y'all! This is seriously amazing!
    Posted on May 17, 2016


    Update 11: A big thanks to Sheila Forsyth, Ruth Rau, Edward Wheatly and Mary Mackay, and Harold Barnett!! Thank you for your generosity!!!!
    Posted on May 20, 2016


    Update 12: Special thanks to Arnie Brown and Edmond Leonard for your generous support! We are getting closer!! Thanks for helping put us at 80%!!!
    Posted on May 21, 2016


    Update 13: A very special thanks to Esther Grimm for her contribution and support! Thank you so much! We can't wait to share this with you!
    Posted on May 31, 2016


    Update 14: Thank you Paul Von Hoff for your donation to the Gentle Shepherd! It's a sunny day outside and another sunny date for the Gentle Shepherd!! :) Thank you all so much again!!!
    Posted on June 05, 2016


    Update 15: A round of thanks to Gail Hajjar, Philip Bauman, Lenora McCroskey, Tim Barry, and Barmey Ung for their contributions! Thank you so much and helping us get closer to our goal!! We're almost there!!!
    Posted on June 07, 2016


    Update 16: Thank you so much everyone!!! We made our goal!!! We could not have done it without you!
    Posted on June 10, 2016


    Update 17: We've still got 2 weeks left, so help us spread the word! Announcing our stretch goal of an additional $2,000 to help us put on a second performance!!
    Posted on June 10, 2016


    Update 18: A big thanks to Terry Miles, Peter Steeves, and Sharon Frawley for their donations!! Thank you for helping us on our way to the stretch goal!! 2nd performance here we come!
    Posted on June 15, 2016


    Update 19: Special thanks to Laura Olsavsky and John Lindgren and Marc Stahl for their contributions! We are closing in at the end! Help us finish with a bang!!!
    Posted on June 23, 2016


    Update 20: We're closing in on the final hours!! A big thanks and special shout out to my grandma Gloria, Uncle George and Aunt Linda, my dear friend Edmond Chan, and BBE board member Bill Fodor!! Thank you so much!!
    Posted on June 24, 2016


    Update 21: More updates to come soon!! To all of you who have donated near and far over the coarse of the campaign: the BBE <3's you!!!
    Posted on June 24, 2016


    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Michael Drouet

    • Linda Rosencranz

    • Laurence Libin

    • Ahsan Khurshid

    • Sonia Csaszar

    • Eric Rice

    • Chris Whitehead

    • George & Linda Thaxton

    • j & c Muszynski

    • Michael Miles

    • Scott Lundius

    • Gloria Berry

    • Lisa Flynn

    • Janice Williams

    • Anna Jacobson

    • Marion Mitchell

    • Sarah and Coco Romano

    • Ruth Rau

    • Sheila Forsyth

    • Edward Wheatly and Mary Mackay

    • Harold Barnett

    • Arnie Brown

    • Edmond Leonard

    • Scott Mossman

    • Curtis Foster

    • Esther Grimm

    • Paul Von Hoff

    • gail hajjar

    • Philip Bauman

    • Lenora McCroskey

    • Timothy Barry

    • Barmey Ung

    • deanna chang

    • Rebecca Incledon

    • Matthew Reynolds

    • gregoire magadini

    • Glenda Lipsmeyer

    • Martha Perry

    • Ann Chen

    • H Peter Steeves

    • Terrence Miles

    • Sharon Frawley

    • Marc Stahl

    • Laura Olsavsky

    • John Lindgren

    • George & Linda Thaxton

    • William Fodor

    • Edmond Chan

    • Gloria Berry

    • Dennis Kurtenbach

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council