December 2022


DECEMBER 3, 2022

The Grand, Long Beach

The annual winter meeting of JASNA Southwest, honoring the 247th birthday of Jane Austen, was held in-person on December 3, 2022 in Long Beach featuring an engaging full-day of music and dance of the Regency. The lively program combined literature, musical performances and English Country Dancing for over 75 JASNA attendees.

Professor Colleen Reardon of the University of California, Irvine presented a masterful analysis of Regency era music utilized in four film adaptations of Emma. Professor Reardon compared and contrasted various compositions selected from the Austen family archival materials and from 18th and 19th century music, reflecting the characters, plot and relationships in Austen’s novel.

In the 1996 British ITV production featuring Kate Beckinsale, Jane Fairfax sings an emotionally appropriate aria from Rossini (Mi lagnero tacendo) lamenting the heroine’s cruel fate and performs music from the Beggar’s Opera (Over the Hills and Far Away) containing lyrics of a secretly married couple. When Emma performs, she plays a popular and simpler folk song, reflecting the tastes and level of “accomplishment” of Emma’s character. Professor Reardon also shared thoughtful insights into various compositions selected for the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow production, the 2009 BBC mini-series starring Romola Garai and the recent 2020 adaptation featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, which artfully utilize Austen family archives and various 18th and 19th century compositions to reflect the “emotional trajectory of the story” and the thoughts and relationships of Austen’s characters.

Complementing Professor Reardon’s perceptive literary and musical analysis were musical performances by Flutist Ann Erwin and Pianist Edith Orloff. Ann Erwin, Principal Flute of San Diego Classics Philharmonic and JASNA member, explained various period compositions that were performed for our members. Highly accomplished musicians Edith Orloff and Ann Erwin performed works that Jane Austen personally played for her own enjoyment or that Jane Austen likely heard during concerts and social gatherings during her years at Bath and her visits to London, including works by Ignaz Pleyel, flautist Charles Nicholson and the popular song Robin Adair. Edith Orloff, a superb musician, recitalist and concert soloist, performed the Haydn Sonata in C major (which Jane Austen copied out in her own hand).

Finally, our members were treated to an entertaining explanation by Cara King regarding English Country Dancing in Jane Austen’s time, including dances and related social experiences referenced in Jane Austen’s letters and novels. Ms. King, an accomplished teacher and researcher of historical dance, analyzed the social context and meaning of Regency dancing, followed by calling and instructing the members in executing various English Country dances which our members performed successfully at the conclusion of the meeting.

The well-attended gathering demonstrated that there are some things which cannot be done over Zoom, and our JASNA Southwest members were delighted that they could, once again, meet in person to enjoy with one another the literature, music and dances of the Jane Austen era.

Cara King supplemented her talk on Dancing with Jane Austen with a list of sites for further reading or viewing on Regency dancing and music and also provided a list of sites for historical and English Country Dancing in Southern California.