They marched down cobblestone streets, sang and played instruments in beautiful stained-glass cathedrals and recited Shakespeare on the grounds of a historical castle. Students from Grandview High School Performing Arts performed at historical sites as they traveled across Ireland.
Around 200 students and staff landed in Dublin, sorted out luggage and instruments and loaded onto buses to head to their first destination.
On the way to the city of Cork, students and staff were welcomed to the Rock of Cashel with a bright rainbow overlooking the green pasture.
As the first bus made it to Cork, the seniors changed into nice clothing and went to city hall to meet the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork and city dignitaries. The remaining students and staff were taken through a quick tour of the city where they walked through the famous English Market.
After a long two days of travel, everyone went to bed in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. The next morning, the choir was first to perform.
At the Roman Catholic Church St. Mary and St. Anne, three Grandview choirs brought 81 voices together to perform powerful pieces, one being “The Gift Be Simple/Shenandoah” by David Zimmerman.
While the choir was finishing their performance, the marching band began to warm up for The Cork St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival.
The sound of drums and horns blasting “Hey Look Ma’ I made It” by Panic! At The Disco through the small streets of Cork grabbed the attention of the public. People from different countries came by to take pictures and videos of the marching band, color guard and baton twirler.
A news anchor and cameraman from TV 3 Ireland, Virgin Media Television came to spotlight the marching band. With the band playing “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, the color guard and baton twirler performed their routine as a staff member of the band was interviewed.
The marching band even went viral on Tik Tok.
When the parade finished, the orchestra was on their way to city hall to perform at a reception for the Lord Mayor of Cork.
“There were all these dignitaries from Cork that had come from the parade to hear this speech by the Mayor and some local music groups were also performing there,” said Orchestra Director Mindi Loewen.
The orchestra performed various pieces, including “American Landscape” by Soon Hee Newbold, "America's Cup” by Alan Silva and a “La La Land” melody.
“It wasn’t like we were background music, it was more like we were the show and they were so kind and attentive and supportive. And it was really quite a spectacular event for the students to get to do,” said Loewen.
Before leaving Cork, the groups had the chance to walk around and experience Blarney Castle and Gardens, where many students lined up to kiss the Blarney Stone.
On the way to the next city, there was a stop at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare. Up on a ledge covered in green moss and in between old canons, the theater group took turns reciting Shakespeare on the entrance to the castle.
The next set of performances took place in Limerick, starting with the theater group performing at the Milk Market.
As the rain poured down, the marching band embraced the weather - whether they wanted to or not - and prepared for the 51st Annual Limerick International Band Competition. Although everyone was soaking wet and cold, the band had fun randomly playing with another band and getting into a friendly drumline battle while waiting for the event to start.
“I was most proud of the band for battling through very cold temperatures and pouring down rain in Limerick, but still having a wonderful performance and earning ‘Best Youth Band’,” said Marching Band Director Keith Farmer.
After the marching band dried off, they went to St. Mary’s Cathedral to watch the orchestra and choir perform.
The orchestra and choir performed Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus” together. The choir went on to perform with beautiful stained glass behind them.
The groups enjoyed sightseeing and exploring some of the most famous landmarks such as the Cliffs of Moher on their way to Galway.
Tucked away in a side street, in the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, Grandview had the chance to watch the performing arts in Ireland. After Grandview’s musical theater performed numerous classic broadway pieces with multiple quick changes, a school musical theater group performed some of their more mellow pieces.
Following musical theater, the students got a taste of Irish culture as they listened to a group play their violins, banjo and flutes. Students erupted with excitement as traditional Irish step dancing began.
The Grandview orchestra and choir then shared their pieces for the students and public of Galway.
“I tried to get them ready for how great the acoustics are in Europe,” said Loewen. “They get that last note in that last song and it reverates through the hall; I try to get them ready for it and when it happens, as it did, every kid just lit up with a smile as soon as they heard the magic ray on the last note. They get it. It cascades down like glitter. It’s amazing.”
Before departing for the last city, the groups fought wind and rain while exploring the Kylemore Abbey and learning about sheep herding at Dan O’Hara’s Homestead.
Blue skies appeared for the performing arts last full day in Dublin.
As the sun shined through the stained glass and centered in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the choir’s voices echoed throughout the church. The high notes in “Northern Light” by Ola Gjeilo and the upbeat melody of “Battle of Jericho” by Moses Hogan enchanted the public.
“The cathedral acoustic is such a unique thing,” said Choir Director Darin Drown. “Most of the songs we sing are meant to be performed in the acoustic environment of the cathedral. We really need to use our eyes more than our ears in such an environment. You cannot trust your ears to tell you because of the echo.”
To celebrate a week’s worth of performances, students and staff took time to walk around Dublin before going to Taylors Three Rock for an evening filled with traditional Irish entertainment.
“The last night's dinner and entertainment was truly memorable and had the entire group up and out of their seats and dancing and singing along,” said Farmer.