Well known for its excellent performances on The Hill and around the Elm City, the choir will bring its talents to both Ireland and Northern Ireland, including the cities of Dublin, Galway, and Belfast.
The choir was originally scheduled to visit Costa Rica, but was impeded by the outbreak of the Zika virus in February. Erika Schroth, the choir director, said,“When we decided to change the destination of the tour, the tour company immediately starting looking at alternatives. Within a couple of days, they let me know that they were going to focus on Spain, Ireland, and Iceland. After a few more days, they determined that the best choice was Ireland. They have put together a wonderful trip of concerts, collaborations, and sightseeing for us.”
However, other students were initially disappointed with the switch. “I love Costa Rica!” commented Briana Hambor ’19, though her Irish ancestry has added to her excitement about the new destination. Irish ancestry factored into other students’ feelings about the trip as well. Katie Broun ’19 said, “I have a little bit of Irish heritage, and I think it will be cool to see all of the cathedrals and see how people live their lives while we are sightseeing.”
Broun was enthusiastic about the new plan: “I loved the switch from Costa Rica to Ireland! This is my first ever trip to Europe and I think that doing it with Hopkins is great.” Sofia Schroth-Douma ’19 felt similarly: “The prospective tour to Costa Rica was an exciting possibility, but Ireland is an excellent alternative. I’ve never been to Ireland before, which is all the more reason to be enthusiastic!”
The choir will be giving concerts with the SONKE Choir in Galway, the Trouble Clefs in Dublin, and the choir of the Wallace High School in Belfast. “It will be interesting to do all of the collaborations with other choirs while on tour,” commented Broun. Kenny Lu ’19 was “most looking forward to singing in a cathedral.” Lu said, “I’ve never had the opportunity to sing in such a large space. I can’t wait to hear how we sound.”
Most of the Tour Choir is comprised of members of the Hopkins Concert Choir. However, there are also several singers in the Tour Choir who are not part of the Concert Choir proper. Additional faculty outside of the choir were also drafted to be chaperones for the trip.
The choir’s repertoire includes two Renaissance-era Latin chants, “Beati omnes” and “O vos omnes”; “Wana Baraka,” a Kenyan Christian song; the Beatles classic, “Blackbird”; and, appropriately, a Celtic folk song, “Dulaman.” Schroth commented, “I programmed a mostly a cappella repertoire because we can’t be guaranteed a piano in every location.”
The Tour Choir will be performing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, the largest church in Ireland. They will also visit Trinity College in the same city, home to the Book of Kells, one of Ireland’s most famous manuscripts from the Middle Ages, and the subject of the film The Secret of Kells. Prior to its time in Dublin, the Choir will visit Galway, which is on the west coast of the country.
Upon arrival, the Choir’s first destination will be Rathbaun Farm, a sheep farm just south of the city. “It doesn’t hurt that Rathbaun Farm serves homemade scones! It will be a good introduction into Ireland,” commented Schroth.
After Dublin, they will visit Malahide Castle, just north of the capital, and continue to the Northern counties. In Northern Ireland, the choir will visit Belfast, a city with an intense history of religious violence. “It will be exciting to learn more about the history when we are there,” said Schroth. The Choir’s program for Belfast includes a concert at St. Thomas’ Church of Ireland, a visit to the shipyard where the Titanic was built, and a trip to the Shankill and Falls Roads, two historic sites.
The tour will conclude with the choir returning to Dublin and departing for the United States on June 21. “I am so excited to see Ireland’s beautiful scenery and hear people speak in various Irish accents,” said Schroth-Douma ’19.