A group of 16 choir students are going to the land of luck — Ireland.
The students, who are members of an array of campus choirs, are going as a newly-formed chamber choir for the trip. A chamber choir is a smaller singing group that performs in spaces large groups can’t fit in.
Casey Hayes, music department chair, said the chamber choir was created especially for this trip. Students have spent hours practicing together each Thursday all semester long, learning a new repertoire of music that would be appealing to an Irish audience, including classical choir music and uniquely American tunes.
“It was an interesting task putting together a concert to take overseas,” Hayes said.
While on the trip, the group will visit the Irish cities of Cork, Kilkenny and Killybegs. Killybegs is Hayes’ hometown.
Hayes, an Irish citizen, will take the group on a tour of Ireland from March 25 to April 1 during the college’s spring break.
“Ireland is such a small country. It’s an island. You can do the entire country in a week,” Hayes said. “So it’s a perfect place for something that’s kind of short term, and I know it like the back of my hand.”
Sophomore Christian Bowling has traveled internationally before, but has never explored Ireland, where his family lineage is from.
“It’s an opportunity to learn cool cultural stuff about Ireland and perform,” he said. “It’s doing the two things I love most at the same time.”
Aside from the three scheduled chamber choir performances, the itinerary includes a few tourist things, like kissing the Blarney Stone, exploring the Cliffs of Moher and visiting the Guinness Storehouse.
Bowling said he’s most excited about the final evening of the trip, when the group will share an old-fashioned dinner like the kings and queens of Ireland used to.
“Year-round, these are my people,” Bowling said. “This is like having your best friends to come with you on a trip. The whole choir is going together, like a family.”
The group will also have a lot of free time each day to explore.
Hayes said Ireland is one of the best and easiest countries to take first-time international travelers to, as the primary language is English and the culture isn’t drastically different to that of the United States.
He said his favorite part of going back to Ireland is visiting his hometown and exposing students to the sights and sounds of Killybegs.
“It’s a relatively isolated area, and because it is a county were Gaelic is the primary language, I think that’s going to be an extremely interesting experience for me, just to see the students’ reaction to a language other than English,” Hayes said.
This isn’t the first time Hayes has taken a group to Ireland. In 2012, he took students on a similar trip to sing in the country on spring break.
“You get a huge sense of history in a very short dose,” Hayes said. “Because it’s everywhere you look. You could be stopping on the side of the road to get a Coke, and you could look in any direction and see a castle and just walk up to it.”