Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Final Day Ireland-Scotland Concert Tour

Everyone was on the bus on time this morning and we had another fun ferry ride back to Northern Ireland and then bus back to Dublin where we will fly home from tomorrow.
A last group photo was taken in front of Taylors Three Rock, an Irish restaurant, bar and music hall where we all enjoyed a fine Irish dinner, Irish music and dancing.  You'll have to check out the videos on Facebook.  The Irish musicians really appreciated our group and got them involved in the music making and dancing.  They said they usually have large tables of French, Belgium, Chinese tourists who are tired and communication is difficult.  Tonight was fun for all!

Allan delivered our appreciation for the fabulous bus drivers, Patrick and Noel, who have been with us for the whole tour, our guides, Orla and Catherine, and Sara Stanton from Cara Travel in Boston who made the arrangements, the wonderful parents who came along, the amazing group of chaperones who got along and were so good with the students, Neil for the great job he did with the Jazz Septet, and the students who really made the whole tour possible, with support from their parents.  
We are already thinking about the next tour/s and want feedback from the participants this year.  We also want everyone's best photos which we will post on this blog when we get home!   

Monday, June 27, 2016

Scotland Day 3

Beautiful day today!  Free day for everyone in Edinburgh.  From the Medieval castle to the narrow streets and tiny alleys up and down the old part of the city, there was lots of walking and exploring today in this beautiful city.

Tomorrow is a long day.  We go back to Dublin tomorrow so we can fly home on Wednesday.  Have to be up by 6:30 am for breakfast and on the bus by 7:15 am so we don't miss the ferry back to Belfast.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Scotland Day 2


Everyone had a large buffet breakfast at the Premiere Inn we are staying at in Glasgow.  It was a sunny morning, almost warm enough to take our jackets off as we walked around the central city, which like European cities has a large mall where cars can't drive.

Rain, however, descended again as we were loading into the buses to go to our last concert which was in the University of Glasgow Chapel.  The university was founded in 1451, the fourth oldest university in the English speaking world.   The beautiful old buildings including the chapel were built in the early 1800's.  There are 15,000 students and 6,000 professors, making it a major business in Glasgow.
Kind of mixed emotions.  Such great music, wonderful and talented kids and amazing experience. . . sad it's the last concert, but also looking forward to being home again.  We visit Edinburgh tomorrow, a medieval and modern city (modern by European standards is 1800s).  Only an hour away, we will eat an early breakfast and be there by 11 am.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Scotland Day 1

Today we took the ferry from Belfast to Scotland.  It was a beautiful trip.  The ferry was not what we expected.  Robert said he thought we would have seats, but we walked from where the bus was parked on the 5th floor to the 7th floor and the students immediately dispersed into a huge space that looked like a large airport lobby. . . restaurants, shops, video game room, movie theatre and more.  I've never been on a cruise ship, but suspect they are like this.  The 8th floor was the same, and on the top 10th floor, there was even a spa.  There were several groups of students playing cards.  Found out they have a yuker tournament going.   All eventually took time to go outside on the deck and just enjoy the scenery.  Looking forward to the return trip!

The students played really beautifully tonight. . . new program for Scotland with no Irish tunes.  They  are paying attention to detail and really performing the pieces on a high level.  The Brahms overture was almost played without a conductor.  The audience was small, but appreciative.

The Jazz Septet played on the first half of the concert, and we're so proud of the students and how they are playing together.  When we got back to the Premier Inn where we're staying, they noticed a piano bar right next to the hotel.  Allan and Neil asked if they could play, and the manager said yes.  I know the students loved it.  While concert halls are great, the feel of jazz in a venue like this is fun.  We were all treated to Neil's fabulous jazz singing and saxophone playing in the first piece they performed.  I know he inspires the students.  They may play there again tomorrow night.

Tomorrow is our final performance at Glasgow University Chapel at 3 pm.  We have listened to ten concerts in the past 11 days, but as one of the adults on the tour said tonight, it's always wonderful to listen to them perform.  The music of young people playing so well nurtures the soul over and over again.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Ireland Day 10

Today was a free day.  The advantage of the Belfast Youth Hostel is its great central location.  Some of the students in the lobby tonight were willing to share what they did today.  We go to Scotland tomorrow!

As today was our free day in Belfast, I tried to make the most out of it by sightseeing throughout the city. After waking up at 7:00, which, I think should be commended, I got ready for the day, and let me say that the showers at this hostile are insufficient for my needs. After that, I ate breakfast with the other woodwinds, and we headed out. We didn't really have a plan for the day, but we had a map which, ironically, we got lost in. While we were wandering, we hit some pretty cool attractions: the world's largest Titanic museum, the city hall, a fish sculpture, and St. Georges Market. At the market, I had a burger and fries(very out there). At 12, we headed back to the hostile for a tour of the city, which basically recapped everything we saw before. After the tour, the gang and I went to the city's shopping mall, Victoria Square. The trip there was pretty brutal with the rain, but I managed to make it out in one piece. I didn't buy anything, but today would've been a good day to use the credit card, with the pound at its lowest in 35 years. As we went back, we stopped at a grocery store where i bought some candy for tomorrow. Now it's about 10, and curfew's at 11. I'm going to watch some Netflix now. Goodnight!  Ryan Mallik

Highlight of the day was definitely going to the carnival in Belfast and going on one really freaky ride that made it very hard to breath for a bit. It's also been interesting being in the UK during the Brexit vote and hearing opinions from people from the area about the referendum. Jake Gordon

We all spent a free day in Belfast today. I spent most of the day walking around the city. In the morning, I walked to St. George's market with a group of other people. There were a lot of fresh fish being sold, as well as other food and interesting products. After the market, we all walked back to the Hostel to meet up with everyone else to go on a tour of Belfast. On the tour, we learned a lot about Belfast's history. After the tour, I walked around the city and passed a clock tower ringing. I had missed recording the sound in the morning and wanted to try recording it, but I kept missing the chance to record it. I ended up missing the chance to record it 3 times. I finally accomplished my goal at 6:00. After dinner, I went walking in the Botanic Garden and saw a lot of beautiful roses. When I passed by a Chinese Restaurant, Lee's Garden, on the way back, I decided to eat there, since I've missed eating Chinese food during the time that I've been on this tour. I ended up eating noodle soup, which made me very satisfied. Today was a fun day in Belfast! Adeline Sun

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ireland Day 9

The students are on a high from tonight's concert. . . deservedly!  To use the Irish term, they were simply brilliant.  Ulster Hall is beautiful and there was a great audience.  The concert was a fund-raiser for CONCERN, a non-profit that fights hunger.  I posted several little video clips on Facebook. Neil Carson has done a fabulous job working with the jazz septet and they really were amazing tonight.  They hadn't even seen two of the pieces they played with the Irish tenor until today.

Ulster Hall is simple, but elegant.  We look at concert halls every place we go now to see what we like and what works.  This hall is box shaped, with excellent acoustics.  Beautiful blue.
There are composer portraits in the lobby of Ulster Hall.  Chose this one because the Orchestra was at the top of its game tonight with Brahms Academic Festive Overture, our traditional tour piece even though the concert was billed as American and Irish music.

Just checked rooms after midnight curfew tonight and several students were already asleep. We are staying at the Belfast Youth Hostel, the most spartan of our accommodations, but we will survive.  Dinner was very good. . . curried chicken and lentils in a sauce with rice, naan and chocolate cake with again, real whipped cream.  Tomorrow breakfast is served until noon.  It is a free morning.  We meet for a city tour at 12:45 pm.  Allan and I plan to head to the St. George's Market.  We went by it today.  Looks like the Reading Market in Philadelphia or the Grand Market in LA.  Will have lots of Belfast sights to report tomorrow night.
Our culture has changed so since our first tours.  These are orchestra students after their rehearsal while the jazz septet was rehearsing.  Everyone had their phone out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ireland Day 8

We are lucky to have these great music leaders who are so full of energy and focused on preparing the students for our performances.  They keep bringing out the best in the students.  Tonight was probably the best program yet!  Jazz played for the mayor's reception before the concert and led off the first half of the concert in the beautiful and wonderful venue, the Guild Hall in Derry.  The acoustics were very good and the chaperones commented that it was nice to actually be able to see the music.  We were joined again by Irish tenor, Paul Byrum.  He also noted that the ensembles were even better this week than at our first concert in Dublin.  

Tomorrow, we are off to Belfast, rehearsal with another Irish tenor, Peter Curry, and a concert in Ulster Hall tomorrow night.  The students all went right to bed tonight when we got back at 10:30 pm.  The food has been wonderful here and we will be up for breakfast at 8:30 am.  

Group inside Guild Hall before we set up for concert.