Our morning excursion was to the extraordinary Cliffs of Moher
, (view map
) a natural step-like exposure of escarpments overlooking the sea. In bright sunshine, the grass was emerald green, and the skies were sapphire blue, and the sea was a slosh of turquoise waves. Along with hundreds of other tourists, I carefully climbed up the worn path to the top prominence. The views at each step were much the same, but each one was fresh in the changing light. The similarities to cliffs along the coast of Newfoundland were striking – same turf, same friable edge, same crashing Atlantic Ocean.
Back in the historic part of Limerick, we had a bit of time for lunch. A fair number of us went to Dolan’s
, a pub where some of our group had gone last night for music. Our numbers seemed to overwhelm them on a Sunday, because the service was slow and not particularly accurate. Fortunately, my ecstatically delicious mussels in Red Thai curry sauce came in good time for me to enjoy it. I am going to investigate Red Thai curry sauce at home.
With no minutes to spare, I changed into my Westwinds black shirt and black pants. Onto the bus
for the quick drive across the Shannon River to St Mary’s Cathedral for a rehearsal. Because I had seen it yesterday, the barrel-vaulted nave was less intimidating than I feared. Nicole chivied the choir into our four-row formation. We sang Locus Iste
. Amongst the soaring stained-glass windows, I felt shivers in my calves with the beautiful sound amongst the resonant stone arches.
Our half-hour was over too quickly, so we moved to the breezy outdoors and continued rehearsing on the front lawn, where a few curious tourists seemed to enjoy the fragments of our concert. For some reason, the band extended their rehearsal to a whole hour. That meant upon returning to the hotel, we went straight into the dining room. Unfortunately, the restaurant staff was unable or unwilling to change their service style or practices to accommodate our haste. We rushed back onto the bus to return to the Cathedral.
With the band set up from rehearsal, the choir sat in our voice sections around the edges of the nave. During the organizers’ introductions, Westwinds presented an envelope of cash we had gathered for the family of a critically ill girl, who was the focus of this fundraising
concert. (Our bus driver seemed quite taken by our putting together the donation.)
Such a big venue suited the band’s big sound, blending all the horns and letting the rhythm be more apparent. Following the band’s performance, a group from the neighbouring County Clare sang and played the Irish harp
, Celtic flute
. Their light folk songs, reels, and one ballad were a good contrast to our massive sounds.
The audience of about a hundred people seemed intrigued by our chant-style Iroquois song, Yanaway Heyona
. Each section of the choir stood on one of the four sides of the nave, voices entering and halting and fading to whispers. After that, I gave our overall introduction while the others made their way to their places, and I joined them for Locus Iste, a piece in Latin created for church spaces. The lyrical song of sorrow, In the Evening
followed, then the more lively modern sea shanty, Song for Peace
. In the moments between songs, I tried to take in the atmosphere of this first performance. It is so easy to be “in the moment” and to let the time pass like a flash. Thankfully, Niicole let our jet-lagged selves stay in our vocal sections for
St Mary Church
Our first concert venue
the difficult Paul Brandt
song, Alberta Bound
; we had been rehearsing it in mixed formation. Nicole tried to get the audience singing and clapping to the spiritual, Take Me to the Water
, with minor success. They responded with smiles, however, as we concluded with the Irish Blessing
, arranged by a Canadian. The prolonged applause was gratifying. I only wished that some audience members would have stayed and chatted with us.
Tot: 3.068s; Tpl: 0.072s; cc: 27; qc: 116; dbt: 0.0901s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb