The UT Chamber Singers recently returned from a 15-day tour of Ireland, where they performed in historic Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Limerick.
It was the fourth choral sojourn in the past 11 years for the Chamber Singers, a group directed by Angela Batey, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2015, the group traveled to England; in 2012, they made their first trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland; and in 2007, they traveled to Carnegie Hall.
On this trip, the 40 members of the ensemble rehearsed and performed choral evensongs in Christ Church Cathedral and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork. Choral evensong is an artistic musical form that includes preces and responses—a call-and-response form of singing—and the chanting of psalms by the choir, a practice that dates back centuries.
The Chamber Singers also performed a public benefit concert at Church of the Immaculate Conception in Oughterard, near Galway, raising funds for the church restoration fund. Their final performance was a public concert in Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick as a part of their 850th anniversary celebration. The public concerts featured tunes from America and Ireland, including “Shenandoah” and “Danny Boy.”
“All the people we met were so warm and welcoming, heartfelt and kind. The public concerts were an opportunity for us to exchange our music with the people of Ireland,” said Hannah Brown, a senior majoring in vocal performance.
They stayed in residence halls at historic Trinity College in Dublin, University College in Cork, National University of Ireland in Galway, and the University of Limerick.
Despite their busy schedule of rehearsing and performing, the group also found time to sightsee. They visited the Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle, made a day trip to the Aran Islands, and took a guided Ring of Kerry day trip with stops at Killarney, Killorglin, Dingle Bay, Waterville, Sneem, Killarney National Park, the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher.
To prepare for the trip, many of the students took a course, Cultural Studies of Ireland, last spring.
Batey said the whole experience—from studying about Ireland to performing traditional services in historic settings to visiting some of the country’s iconic sites—provided ample lessons for all involved.
“The musical, cultural, and educational experiences our UT students received during the tour cannot be overstated. I know for many this trip was a life-changing experience.”
Chamber singer and nuclear engineering major Michael Hines summed it up: “This beautiful music and our incredible director really brought us together, and especially being overseas—UT opened up a really cool experience here that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to take otherwise.”
Two videographers and a photographer from the Office of Communications and Marketing accompanied the group to chronicle the trip. Video clips, along with participants’ posts tagged #volchambersingers, were posted to Instagram and Facebook.
A video documentary will air later this year on East Tennessee PBS.
In addition, Batey and Brown will talk about the Ireland trip in a story that will air at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18, on WUOT-FM, 91.9 FM or streaming at wuot.org.
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)