ICQ -- 2002/No. 1


Serenading the Emerald Isle

Stories copyright 2002 by Amy Robin Rose
Photographs for Ithaca College by Peter Matthews -- Black Star


IC Choir members get a chance of a lifetime as musical ambassadors to Ireland.

by Amy Robin Rose

In March an anonymous angelís generous gift sent Professor Larry Doebler and 48 members of the Ithaca College Choir on a one-week trip to Ireland --- part of a program intended to promote the exchange of music and ideas between Ithaca College and the Irish World Music Centre (IWMC) at the University of Limerick.

Choir members soaking up the atmosphere on walksThe choir spent the week getting to know Ireland, giving concerts, and holding workshops in Galway, Cork, and Limerick. IC voice professors Randie Blooding, Carol McAmis, David Parks, and Kelly Samarzea toured and performed with the choir. The entourage also included College president Peggy R. Williams, vice president for institutional advancement Shelley Semmler, School of Music dean Art Ostrander and associate dean (and tour manager) William Pelto, choir alumna Marge Rooke Schwab í69, professor emerita Shirley O. Hockett (my mother), and me.

Our host in Ireland was Mícheál ÓíSúilleabháin, director of the IWMC. From the start, the choir and the Irish people they met were delighted with each other. On our first evening we attended a medieval banquet at 15th-century Bunratty Castle, set in a "folk park" of medieval houses near Shannon. While we were standing in the enormous, high-ceilinged reception hall waiting to enter the castle, the choir suddenly burst into song. There was no conductor in sight and the students were scattered, facing in all directions. Yet they sang in perfect unison, every voice distinct and all voices perfectly blended. The huge hall vibrated palpably.

During the feast itself, the choir sang again, to the surprise and delight of the assembled guests. "The other diners just had no idea that they had an amazing choir sitting among them that would burst into amazing song at the drop of a hat," says soprano Jessica Lavway í02. The applause . . . was deafening after we sang."



A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 1 August, 2002