Best of Ireland 2006

 

This concert tour of Ireland was funded from various sources in addition to what the participants paid from their own pockets.  We are indebted to the following alumni and friends who made donations to underwrite costs.

Lonny and Jodi Ackerman

Patricia Cihak
Dean Herll Corey and Sue Jacobs
Mike and Angela Oberlander Jim Sears

Tom and Sharon Zeller

 

Day

Locale

Comments/Activities

Wednesday
May 17 (0)

Depart USA for Dublin Airport

Well, that was the PLAN, anyway.  What really happened is that Chicago, through which many of our people were flying, had weather delays to the point that the Rapid City flights could not take off.  This led to a tremendous logistical nightmare for Dr. Feiszli, as he tried to get a choir ready for a competition; and for Harald Lischkowitsch, who for three days practically lived at the Dublin airport on his mobile phone trying to get everyone here.

Perhaps now is the place to name those who took the trip and from where they were coming.  We were:

Sopranos Tenors
Kristi Murphy - Rapid City, SD
Terri Hertz - Armour, SD
Emily Weissenfluh - Milbank, SD
Michelle Feiszli - Rapid City
Toni Brumbaugh - Rapid City

Jamin Eben - Rapid City
Joshua Green - Peoria, IL
Dave Herbst - Minneapolis, MN
Adam Stone - Seattle, WA

Altos Basses
Marci Eben - Rapid City
Toni Logar - Rapid City
Aly Oltmanns - Piedmont, SD
Amanda Masteller - Piedmont, SD

Kat Drefs - Minneapolis, MN
Phyllis Dixon - Rapid City
Hamilton Sims - Boston, MA

Joe Cass - Sturgis, SD
Ed Corwin - Rapid City

Marty Drefs - Minneapolis, MN
Joshua Job - Spearfish, SD
Garrett Schmitz - Minneota, MN
Patrick Lee - Rapid City

Jason Whittington - Rapid City

with two non-singers: Connie Green and Toni Martin in addition to Hans-Jörg Kilj, our bus driver for the last two European tours.

Thursday
May 18 (1)

Arrive Dublin

By noon,  the names of those in the table above that are italicized had NOT made it to Dublin.  Our hotel was the Holiday Inn Dublin, close to Trinity College.  Those who did make it got acquainted or re-acquainted. While Harald attempted to find out in what airports everyone was stranded, some took a long walk to visit the Guinness Brewery.  Interesting tour of the process of making beer - very much so for the chemical engineers.  Even better was the view of Dublin from the top of their observation tour.

By evening, we had less than 1/2 of the ensemble here. We rehearsed anyway to allow those who were unfamiliar with the music and the rest of the ensemble; i.e., those Alumni and Friends who were singing who had not been part of the Concert Choir during spring semester.  Patrick Lee and Garrett Schmitz finally arrived in the evening.  We had a small “welcome to Ireland” dinner, but the mood was less than light since we were worried about our absentee friends.

Friday
May 19 (2)

Dublin

Early this morning, Harald and Hans left for the airport to wait hopefully for the Aer Lingas flights that might bring some singers to us.  The rest of us waited until 10:00 and then entered another two hour rehearsal hoping to patch some gaps in sections.  We were enheartened by the arrival of Adam Stone, Ed Corwin, Toni Logar, Phyllis Dixon,  - who were basically marched off the plane into the rehearsal!

Many spent the short afternoon resting, scouting out a place for dinner, or getting to know the newcomers by visiting in the hotel restaurant.  In the meantime, Dr. Feiszli was on the phone to the AIMS festival organizers in New Ross and to the conductor of the Dublin County Choir, the group that we were sharing tomorrow night's concert with - making plans A, B, C because of the uncertainty of all things. Then we had another two hour rehearsal before dinner while awaiting word on our still-absent companions.  The majority of the Master Chorale was still missing - and they were entered in one of the competition categories on Sunday.

Finally, before the end of the day we received word that the rest of the group was expected to arrive in Dublin tomorrow morning.

Saturday
May 20 (3)

Dublin to New Ross

 

Riverview Hotel
19 The Quay
New Ross


So, the entire group got up early, checked out of the hotel, and headed (once again) to the Dublin airport. Our main objective today was to have a rehearsal to prepare for the AIMS Festival and its opening concert – at which we were to be one of the featured choirs!!! Plan A.  In order to get to New Ross in time to try to pull this ensemble, whose personnel seemed to change from rehearsal to rehearsal, together in time to perform a concert *this* evening; we were going to have to wait at the airport for any one of several Aer Lingas flights which would hopefully be carrying our people.  BTW, Aer Lingas was great.  Their service was top-notch and professional in the way they handled those stranded by the weather in Chicago.

So, everyone waited on bus.  Harald, Dr. Feiszli, and two others went in to wait at the gates.  One flight arrives with THREE people, not seven.  And, as they come out of the gates, they express amazement because the missing four left Chicago before they did.  Furthermore, they report seeing the luggage of the missing four on the baggage claim.  Plan B ... wait a bit longer and hope they come on the next flight whereupon we'll all go to New Ross together.  Plan C, if they don't show, we head to New Ross without them leaving Harald to rent a car and drive them there - when and if they come.  Feiszli re-writes concert order in his head.  Hurrah, the last four choir members arrive on the 11:15 flight!  Everyone climbs onto bus to cheers and at noon head out finally for New Ross.  Back to Plan B.

Arrive in New Ross and immediately head to concert hall for rehearsal.  Really hard on those who just arrived after three days in transit.  Made last-minute revisions and then headed to hotel to check in and grab a quick bite to eat.  After dinner, donned our concert attire for the concert which went until about 10:00pm.  Since we shared the gig, there was a lot of waiting around in the wings, the green room, and the stairs going up to the stage.  The scariest moment of the evening had to be when we were informed that we would have to come up with an encore and had none.  Had to hurriedly throw together the arrangement of Billy Joel's "And So It Goes" that both the Chorale and A&F members knew.

After the concert there was quite a bit of second guessing that went on as far as our preparation for the competition on the next day.

Sunday
May 21 (4)

New Ross

The Association of Irish Musicals Society choral festival competition is one of the largest choral festivals in Ireland. It annually attracts over 70 choirs from throughout Ireland and beyond. The three-day event attracts an audience of over 10,000 people.  There are fifteen choral categories and we were entered in three of them:

Competition B - Waterford International Festival of Light Opera Shield
Mixed Chorus under 40 voices
Two contrasting part-songs of own choice

Master Chorale
Barber – Mary Hynes
Sting – King of Pain

Concert Choir
Barber – The Coolin’
Hogan – I’m Gonna Sing Til the Spirit

 

Competition H - Whitten Haslem Memorial Trophy
Sacred Music (Any size)
Two contrasting part-songs of own choice

 

Concert Choir
Berger – The Eyes of All
Hairston – In that Great Getting’ Up Morning

Competition K - Tipperary Crystal Trophy
Gospel Music (Any size)
Two contrasting songs of own choice

Concert Choir
Johnson - Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray
Dawson – Soon-Ah Will be Done

We awoke to a rainy downpour.  Great.  Nothing like spending a day in a tuxedo or long dress with wet feet.  First on the docket was a rehearsal for Master Chorale to see whether we could even stay in the competition.  This group had not rehearsed for a month and two of its members had not made the trip to Ireland.  We had counted on those two lost days in Dublin to make some patches.  Now we had to do it in 90 minutes.  We did what we felt we could do to prepare, and left to change.

The Choir and Chorale met at 11:00 to warm-up and fix problems noted from the concert the previous night.  At noon Chorale headed into the same Theater we'd sung the concert at the night before to sing in one of the toughest divisions of the competition before judges from Cambridge University (England) and Trinity College (Dublin).  We did as well as we felt we could have.  The day before, Chorale could not get through Mary Hynes.  On this occasion, we were as close to getting it as we ever have been.  Josh Green did an awesome job with the solo on King of Pain. Exactly sixteen minutes later it was the Concert Choir's turn.  Again, we left feeling that, with all the difficulties encountered thus far, we did as good a job as we could have.  Jamin Eben, probably still jet-lagged, let it fly on the Moses Hogan spiritual.  The Coolin had never sounded as good.

Once done with the Open competition, we had about three hours before the competition with the most entries - the sacred music category.  Ate a light lunch and then gathered again to review what we needed to do.  This competition was at the local parish church. The structure was just up the street from the theater and by now the deluge had stopped (Gott sei dank) because at *this* venue groups had to wait outside before entering for their competition.

The church had great acoustics and a beautiful interior.  Many of us went early to hear some of the other groups.  They were very good.  A girls chorus from Dublin was simply stunning in their sound and musical presence.  Then it was our turn.  Everyone was a bit nervous.  The first piece, The Eyes of All, showed it as we had some (not unexpected) intonation problems - same ones we'd been struggling with all along.  However, the Hairston In Dat Great Gettin Up Mornin' saved the performance as the audience got involved and clapped and hooted at the end.

Afterwards, everyone felt a bit more relaxed and when it came to the last competition of the day the tension was definitely off.  However by now the day had turned colder and the wait was made longer because of it.  We finally got in and, again, were able to pull out all the stops for a good performance.  Not perfect, but we did what we could do.  At the end of the day, that's the important thing.  Now that we were done with the competition, we could relax.

The culmination of the AIMS festival is the awards ceremony that takes place in the theater.  All the choirs that can fit in come.  The stage is decked out with all the trophies for the various competitions.  The judges sit onstage and all speak, giving their impressions of what they heard throughout the day.  Each choir is asked to designate representatives that will sit near the front and accept any awards that they might receive.  Dr. Feiszli asked Dave Herbst and Emily Weissenfluh to represent the Concert Choir and Josh Green and Kristi Murphy to represent the Master Chorale.

To make a long story short, SDSM&T swept every competition they entered.  Master Chorale took first place in the Open competition and Concert Choir placed second.  Concert Choir took first place in both the Sacred and Gospel competitions.  Below are thumbnails of all the hardware we won.  Clicking on the thumbs will bring up larger images.  If you want to see the real thing, come to the King Center lobby and check out the trophy case outside the Music Offices.

Well, many of us hadn't eaten much all day so we headed to a local Italian place only to find all the judges, AIMS officials, and some other choirs there as well.  Well, it didn;t take long for the singing to start.  We sang Down to the River to Pray, Galileo, Killing Me Softly.  The other choirs sang as well.  Some of us just listened.

After dinner (and a looong day) nobody was tired just yet.  The excitement and, yes, shock, had not yet worn off.  So most of us gathered in a big room and talked over and celebrated the day's events.

Monday
May 22 (5)

New Ross, Killarney

 

Cahernane House Hotel

Leaving New Ross, we headed south and then west through the mountains, stopping for lunch in picturesque Macroom with its beautiful square and castle, and arriving that afternoon at Killarney, the on-ramp to the 100-mile circle of beautiful scenery that is one of Ireland's most traveled routes - the Ring of Kerry.  Our home here was the Cahernane House Hotel, adjacent to the Killarney National Park.  We checked in and then ran to town to ready ourselves for a concert at St. Mary's parish church, situated at the end of the center of town.  The rector of this Anglican (Episcopal to us Americans) church was actually from the U.S. and the verger (more or less, property manager) was originally German. Everything from the past few days was catching up to us and yet we had a concert to give.  Again everyone pulled together and did their best.  The crowd was not huge but, according to the rector, was a good crowd for a Monday evening.  We sang things that we hadn't sung yet on this tour such as Chili con Carne, Frog Went a Courtin', and some others.

Afterwards, many wanted to go to town and relax.  Others relaxed by enjoying the relative splendor and quiet of Cahernane house.  The fine restaurant and well-stocked wine cellar were great complements to the library, sunroom, and game room.  The rooms themselves and grounds were splendid as well. Later that evening we all seemed to find ourselves in the hotel lounge with some Dutch tourists who encouraged us to sing and even joined in.

Tuesday
May 23 (6)

Ring of Kerry
Killarney

The weather had been less than perfectly sunny up until this point, but we were here and it seemed pointless to miss the Ring of Kerry, so around 10:00am or so we loaded onto the bus and headed northwest to Dingle Bay. Along the peninsula were beautiful vistas and many photo opportunities of landscapes, mountain streams, and Atlantic Ocean, all provided by the great driving of Hans-Jörg.  At the end of the peninsula was Portmagee, a quaint fishing village which provided a great rest stop.  We stopped in Waterville for lunch and then continued the drive.  Stunning mountain and coastal views greet you.  We tried to reach a prehistoric stone fort which was way off the beaten track, but the Irish roads bested even Hans' best efforts.  The bus was bigger than the road!  Our final stop on the Ring was Sneem, a place with all sorts of tourist shops allowing people to spend the money burning in their pockets.  We returned in the evening to Killarney and Cahernane House.  Most of us opted to go back into town for the nightlife and dinner opportunities, once again ending the evening in the hotel lounge singing and socializing before packing to leave this oasis.

Wednesday
May 24

 (7)

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
May 25 (8)

Killarney
Ennis
Cliffs of Moher

We were a bit sad to leave Killarney to head north to County Clare, but knew that other experiences awaited.  Clare is, perhaps, best known for the splendor of the Cliffs of Moher, but that was to wait another day.  Our destination tonight was The Queens Hotel in Ennis, right next to the ruins of an old Franciscan monastery. The Fleadh Nua music festival was in full swing.  Ennis was a perfect size for us.  With nothing scheduled for us to perform, but with opportunities to sing in just about any place where people gathered, we each went our separate ways. The Celtic festival was celebrating its 33rd year in Ennis. The concept of bringing together concerts, céilithe, music, song and dancing workshops, street entertainment, pageants/parades and much more was a great chance for us to meet some true Irish culture.

On our second day we left Ennis for a daytrip, this time around County Clare.  The Burren is a unique area of limestone rock with the dolmens and ringforts of a vanished civilization.  The countryside is dotted with old ruined and preserved castles of many kinds.  There are also ruined monasteries and cathedrals with old graveyards filled with dozens of Celtic crosses.  There are also road barriers in the form of livestock!  One of its villages, Doolin, where we stopped for lunch, is the home of many traditional Irish musicians.  This was a great day of sightseeing and leisure in some of the most beautiful country in this beautiful island.  The most impressive site was the Cliffs of Moher, which form a bulwark against the Atlantic Ocean.  We went first to a beach below the cliffs to experience the ocean's tides and height of the cliffs from afar.  Then we went up to the cliffs where the sheer height and drop are alternately terrifying and exciting.

Arrived back in Ennis about 6:00pm to launch into the Fleadh Nua again before heaidng back to the hotel to pack.

Friday
May 26 (9)

County Galway
Connemara

 

Screebe House

We headed out late this morning hoping to have lunch at a famous oyster resturant on Galway Bay.  Unfortunately they were not open when we arrived and, as we were near Galway, we decided to simply keep on trucking towards our destination in Connemara.  Our road took us through Galway to the heart of the Gaelic-speaking part of Ireland.  We headed past An Cheathru Rua (Carraroe in English), a small village on a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.  We’d be heading back there tonight for a planned music-making event with some Irish musicians in the town hotel - well-known for hosting live music.

We headed north for a few kilometers to our home for four nights: Screebe House, a rustic hunting and fishing lodge in the middle of hundreds of acres of wildlife sanctuary in beautiful Connemara. Actually Screebe could not handle the whole crowd so we were split into three groups and spread amongst Screebe and two very nice B&Bs that were on either side of Screebe.

Well, we still had to plan what to sing tonight as this was an entirely informal type of presentation.  None of our "choir" stuff, but all of our folk and pop things.  So we gathered in the parlor of Screebe and ran over everything we had not yet performed.  After a light dinner of pasta and homemade bread, we went to our separate houses to get ready for the performance.  This sounds simple, but in order for the bus to get in and out of the gates of Screebe House, Hans had to back the bus through a space that gave him about six inches on either side!  He did this about three times a day every night we were at Screebe House.  Occasionally a bug would get splattered on the windshield.

At seven we gathered for the fifteen minute drive back to Carraroe.  Our host for the evening was an Irish singer named Sarah.  She regularly performs at this venue and had arranged for some local publicity.  As luck would have it, there was also a busload of French tourists in the hotel who came in and joined us.  It was a grand night.  Some young girls came and danced for us.  We listened to others, we sang for them, we talked, we simply had a good time.

Saturday
May 27 (10)

Connemara

Today was a day to enjoy all the area had to offer.  Some went golfing on a beautiful Irish course. Others went horseback riding.  Many went to Galway to poke around there. Lots of shopping and good pubs.  By evening we had gathered again for a trip to Oughteraad for a evening of dining at a well-known seafood place there.

Sunday
May 28 (11)

Connemara
Galway

Today was a day of options.  Some got up very early to go with Screebe's gamekeeper to try to see some of the herd of red deer on the grounds.  Unsuccessful.  Some slept in.  Some went for a hike.  Other went fishing.  The Screebe Fishery extends to over 21 sq. miles, neatly divided by the waterfall close to the hatchery. Some just strolled around the Screebe grounds, enjoying the view, the tidal flats, and the company.

That afternoon we had a cooking class hosted by Screebe’s chef followed by a group dinner that lasted into the wee hours.  This was more-or-less our chance to perform for ourselves - which led to many interesting things like the Ireland rap, Adam's story about the choir that lost to us.  It was a little nostalgic, knowing that tomorrow we were headed back to Dublin.

Monday
May 29 (12)

Dublin

Holiday Inn Dublin

We left Screebe about noon.  We took our time riding through the mid-section of Ireland traveling back to Dublin for our last night in Ireland.  After we arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon, there was some time to run around for last-minute shopping or sight-seeing.  That evening we gathered for a farewell dinner at the Clarence Hotel, owned by Bono of U2, to say our good-byes to Ireland.  We sang for ourselves and the guests one last time, and slowly disappeared to either stay out all night or get packed for an early flight.

Tuesday
May 30 (13)

Depart Dublin for USA