Monday, June 6, 2016

The Great Risk

A couple of years ago, knowing that we were going to head back across the Atlantic, an idea was proposed of immense potential – and huge risk.  The idea was this:  what would it be like to form an Irish choir, suggest a repertoire, work on it simultaneously on each side of the Pond, then put the whole thing together while we were on tour?  Further, what would it be like to do such a thing in a really prestigious place?

That place is easily found in Ireland, and it was right in our backyard (almost literally) when we were in Wexford County.  The venue was the National Opera House (formerly the Wexford Opera House), one of the most prestigious places to offer music in all of Ireland.

But the risks were tremendous: could we fashion a trio of choirs (a Wexford Children's Choir, a Ferns Festival Choir, and the ND Folk Choir) into a single unit, given that we only had an evening and afternoon rehearsal to work out the details?  Could we put together a slide presentation that would be compelling and fitting for the concert goers?  Would our instrumentalists be able to merge their sounds into a cohesive whole with such short notice?

And – would anyone show up?

We had help from around the diocese – most notably, from Olga Thompson and her team of singers from Our Lady's Island.  Fr. Denis Lennon, the PP at Clonard Church, made sure that there were huge signs at many of the roundabouts heading into Wexford.  Laura Taylor, the director of the House of Brigid in Wexford, threw herself into keeping up morale and walking with her Notre Dame colleagues every step of the way.

And when it was all over, on Friday night, there were more than four hundred enthusiastic supporters of our venture – including a small army of Notre Dame friends and supporters who'd been following us from place to place.

We owe a lot to the good people of the Church of the Annunciation, and most especially to Laura Taylor, the outgoing director of this year's House of Brigid.  Against huge odds and obstacles galore, she managed to pull together a formidable group of musicians who reflected her own marvelous instincts of music serving the prayer of the Church.  All of us in the Choir were immensely grateful to her, and to the parish she serves, for making us welcome and supporting our song, on each step of the journey.

Bucket list event:  singing in the National Opera House with the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir!  Checkmark!

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