Note to editors: For names and hometowns of students on the trip, please see listing at the end of this release.
By Janene Hill -- Singers are seldom known for their silence, but sometimes there are experiences that no words can describe. For Fort Hays State University Director of Choirs Rager Moore, a 12-day trip to Ireland with his choir was one of those silencing experiences.
"When I think back on it, I get speechless. I don't know if I could ever put it all into words. The whole experience was pretty incredible," Moore said.
Moore, 52 FHSU choir students and a few other special guests spent May 15-27 touring Ireland. The group was able to tour cathedrals, historical landmarks, cities and beautiful countryside.
Oh, and they did a little singing along the way. "The trip was unforgettable and moving. The opportunity to sing in beautiful cathedrals was something I'll never forget," said Shannon Wiedeman, Hays spring 2000 graduate.
The choir sang in five different cities with each free, scheduled concert taking place at a large cathedral within the city. One unexpected concert took place for the choir also. While at the Rock of Cashel Cathedral, a rehearsal turned into an impromptu concert drawing more than 150 admirers. "That was one of the best experiences. The kids didn't want to take their music and sing at all there at first, but by the time we were supposed to leave, none of them wanted to stop singing," Moore said.
Music performed while in Ireland was a combination of more than 35 pieces that the FHSU Concert Choir and the Fort Hays Singers had performed throughout the 1999-2000 concert season.
Moore said the audiences in Ireland were more than receptive of the music. "They really wanted to hear American music such as spirituals. We blew the audiences away. We were really appreciated by them," Moore said. That appreciation showed when the choir performed at St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh. Unbeknownst to the performers, the bishop of Ireland was present for the performance. After the concert, the bishop visited backstage to personally shake the hand of every performer and let them know how much he appreciated and enjoyed the concert.
"That was the largest cathedral we performed in, so that made it even more special. Not everyone can say the bishop attended their concert and then shook their hand afterward," Moore said.
The choir's five scheduled performances took place in Sligo Cathedral, St. John's Catholic Church in Killaloe, St. Mary's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Killarney, St Coleman's Cathedral in Cobh and the Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. Along with music, the group was able to enjoy tourist activities. The nine cities on the tour included Sligo, Donegal, Galway, Killaloe, Limerick, Killarney, Cork, Cobh and Dublin. They also visited the port of Cobh, where the American ship Lusitania was sunk; the Black Valley; Muckross Abbey; the Blarney Castle and Blarney Stone; the Rock of Cashel Fortress; Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland; the Ring of Kerry; Bunratty Castle; the Cliffs of Moher and the Book of Kells.
"It really is a beautiful country. We got to see alot of scenery. The bus drivers were great, they told us about everything," said Bill Elder, Bison senior. "In Dublin they have all different parts of the town. We got to hang out in the college part. We spent a couple of days there and visited the college. It was really fun being there."
"My most memorable moment was on the morning of my birthday I had an opportunity to visit some ruins behind our lakeside hotel. The waters of the lake were perfectly still, standing in front of the mountains in the background," Wiedeman said.
The 12-day trip not only let the tourists in on the history and culture of Ireland but helped to teach everyone a little more about life. "We all got to experience something like never before. We got to know each other better. I want to teach more than music. I want to teach life experiences and that is what this trip was about," Moore said.
Students taking part in the Ireland trip:
Assaria: Jeremy LeDuc, sophomore
Beloit: Susan Holway, junior
Bison: Kristen Urban, senior; William Elder, senior
Cawker City: Holly Roth, junior
Dighton: Karen Krehbiel, senior; Logan Campbell, sophomore, Loren Campbell, senior
Ellinwood: Trenton Green, senior
Fowler: Stacie Hageman, junior; Abby Leis, junior
Garden City: Lynnlea Fryman, senior
Great Bend: Amanda Asher, senior; Alisha Erwin, sophomore
Goessel: Kimberly Schmidt, junior
Hays: Jessica Braun, sophomore; Jeff Brull , fall 1999 graduate; Brandon Cooley and James Geist, freshmen; Jason Haag, Jake Steward and Brandon Green, seniors; John Dolezal, Lisa Wertenberger and Shannon Wiedeman, spring 2000 graduates
Hudson: Jill Siefkes, senior
Inman: Andy White, sophomore
Junction City: Virginia Macumber, senior
Kiowa: Renee Christensen, senior
Leoti: Allyson Lobmeyer, sophomore
Maxville: Travis Grizzell, junior
Montezuma: Amber Marrs, senior
Mulvane: David Krasky, sophomore
Natoma: Matt Eickhoff, freshman; Nathan Eickhoff, freshman
Nekoma: Scott Pfenninger, summer 1999 graduate
Osborne: Christine Hindman, junior
Pratt: Amy Renner, junior
Quinter: Ericka Lathrop, senior; Jesica Sparks, senior
Rozel: Shaun Colglazier, junior
Russell: Ani Adams, sophomore
Sylvan Grove: Erin Zamrzla, sophomore
Syracuse: Jenny Cheney, senior
Weskan: Travis Smith, spring 2000 graduate
Wichita: Joshua Brandt, senior
OUT OF STATE
Colorado Springs: Ben Holman, senior
Curtis, NE: Heather Kennedy, senior
Hastings, NE: Emily Griffin, junior
OUT OF COUNTRY
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong: Kellog Ng, special student