Music students prep for Ireland performances

Story by Taylor Shuck, Editor

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In 2011, Director of Bands Ray James took his sabbatical at the Dundalk Institute of Technology. Through his experiences, he learned to love the Irish culture, its people and its music. But he was also able to develop a relationship that he could bring back to his students.

Sixteen Baker University music students will be leaving the country on Thursday and traveling to Ireland to learn from and perform with the students in Dundalk, along with gaining other concert experiences.

“I love Ireland. I enjoy the people there, but I’m excited to basically show our students Ireland and give them a little taste of what is there,” James said. “I want them to enjoy the culture and the music. It’s a delightful music, and it’s a totally different style than what we do here in America. It’s nice to take students and open their eyes to what is happening in other places.”

Every three years, the Baker Music Department offers study abroad opportunities either through performances or musical history.

“Travelling abroad allows us to interact and understand other people and cultures,” James said. “But more than just culture, there’s a lot to be learned about their music.”

The students will be able to sit in on a traditional Irish music class in Dundalk as a cross-cultural exchange and joint rehearsal, which James says is taught very differently than music classes at Baker. They will also be performing five concerts during their 10-day stay in Ireland.

“I think that it’s going to be really cool to have a direct tie to their culture and tie in their music to the trip,” sophomore Laura Bynum said, “and really just to learn about another cultural aspect of the country.”

Their time will be evenly split between sightseeing and performing. The first concert will be a benefit for the local community center in Piltown, Ireland, which will be streamed for parents and the Baker community to watch.

From there, students will travel to Kilkenny to perform with Irish musical groups

“We wanted to give our students some time to see the sights but also want to balance that with our concerts,” James said. “We feel that all of it is educational. It gives us a really good chance to learn other cultures and show off our wares, too.”

The group that will be partaking in the experience is composed of many different types of majors and performers, ranging from choral to violin. There will also be a Dixieland Sextet that will promote what Baker has to offer.

Sophomore nursing major Stephanie Chappell is excited to take a break from her major and spend time enjoying her favorite hobby — singing.

“I’m really glad that my first out-of-the-country experience is in college and is a music thing because that’s one of my favorite ways to communicate with people I don’t have anything else in common with,” Chappell said. “Most of the time you have to do things for your major, so it’s nice to take a break from science and do art for awhile.”