From May 20 to 28, 2019, the Lenoir-Rhyne University A Cappella Choir and Brass Ensemble will embark on a weeklong performance and tour of Ireland. The learning experience allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural context of Irish music and their culture. Additionally, students will participate in collaborations of local choirs to further connect to the music of that region.
"The music program takes much pride in serving as an ambassador for the University and region," said Ryan Luhrs, Ph.D., assistant professor of music and director of choral activities. "We are grateful for our students' commitment to music as part of their studies and are excited for them to experience Ireland."
During the trip, LR students will perform for large audiences while participating in educational opportunities and tour some of the most popular tourist attractions including the Cliffs of Moher, Enniskillen Castle, Trinity College, the Book of Kells, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. LR will be represented in venues of the highest musical and historical quality such as the Gothic Church at Kylemore Abbey, which was founded for Benedictine nuns who fled during World War I. LR's groups will also perform at Galway and have joint evening concerts with the Ballygowan Flute Band in Belfast and The Millicent Singers in Dublin.
Before their May 20 departure, the student musicians will rehearse and attend classes on Irish history and culture led by Anne Barry, Ph.D., director of choral activities at Lake Forest University, Chicago. Originally hailing from Ireland, Barry held appointments at University College Dublin, University of Limerick, and University College Cork before moving to the United States to pursue doctoral studies. She will be in residence with the choir May 14 to 16, sharing her Irish culture and choral music expertise. The week of rehearsals will conclude with a tour preview concert at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 19, at Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church, 9379 Hwy. 127 N., Hickory. The event is open to the public and no tickets are required. A love offering to benefit Addy's Giving Heart will be received during the performance.
The LR A Cappella Choir, which has toured internationally nearly every four years since 1970, is directed by Luhrs, accompanied by Jeana Neal Borman, staff accompanist and music instructor. Christopher Nigrelli, professor of music, conducts the LR Brass Ensemble. Most recently, they toured Costa Rica in 2015 but have also been to various countries in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Founded in 1935 by St. Olaf Choir alumnus Kenneth Lee, the Lenoir-Rhyne A Cappella Choir has toured throughout the United States and abroad. The choir has performed at the installations of two national Evangelical Lutheran Church in America bishops and for the 200th Anniversary of the North Carolina Synod. During the 2017-18 school year, the choir participated in a worship event commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in Charlotte led by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and collaborated with the Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, the Hickory Chorale Society, and Catawba Valley Community College Choirs to perform Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9."
Photo Credit: A Cappella Choir photo by Mikeala Skelton, Lenoir-Rhyne University