Masterworks Choir Tours Ireland

By Dr. James Orr
The Masterworks Choir successfully toured Ireland this June 19 -28. As always, Dillon County was strongly represented with eight present or former residents in the choir of fifty participants from around the state.

The tour began by landing in Dublin and a brief tour of the city before driving across the country to Galway. Galway is a lovely and musical town on the Atlantic coast. After a day trip to Kylemore Abby, with a performance in the Abby Chapel, the choir returned to Galway to rest and see a few local sights, the choir went through a grueling two hour rehearsal at St Nicholas Church. St. Nicholas recently celebrated its seven hundredth anniversary in this same building.

From Galway the choir headed south to Killarney. On the way, one of the highlights of the tour was a stop at the majestic Cliffs of Mohar on the Atlantic coast. Soaring as much as 600 feet above sea level, they are an awe-inspiring sight. The road continued south to the ferry over the Shannon River and then to Killarney. There the choir performed in St Mary’s Church to a full house.

The next morning it was back on the buses across Ireland to Dublin, the largest city in the country. After checking into our third hotel of the trip, we again climbed on the buses to see Dublin. The choir performed at St. Joseph’s Church in Glasthule, a suburb of Dublin. This was an active local congregation. Many large cathedrals are largely tourist attractions or for special ceremonies. However, St. Joseph’s is a vibrant active community church built in 1869. The church also presented special difficulties as the organ is in the back of the church in the balcony and the choir needed to be at the front of the church. Beverly Hazelwood, the choir accompanist, did yeoman duty by running to the back from the piano to play “Beautiful River” and then back to the front to continue the concert. This concert was also a shared concert with the Irish vocal group Celtic Calling. You can see more of them on Youtube or The final concert was an informal lunch concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The Irish audiences were both gracious and enthusiastic.
The Verger John Reardon of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin commented that it was rare for an audience to applaud so long or at all at a performance of this type. St. Patrick’s is the largest cathedral in Ireland.
The tour ended with a farewell meal of traditional Irish food, music and dance at the Merry Poughboys in the green countryside outside of Dublin.
The choir’s conductor, Dr Will Carswell expressed his sentiments after, “I will remember the stunning beauty of Ireland, the kindness of every Irish person I encountered, the amazing sacred spaces in which we performed, and I will always remember the moving music you made at each concert. Our singing was not perfect. If we’re waiting on perfection to perform, we should stop now. What I hope and strive to achieve in every performance is to sing as well as we can in each unique situation and, hopefully, move those who hear us to an emotion. This you accomplished at every venue.”

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