Each semester, music professor Dr. Sara Harris Baker tries to provide some sort of transformative experience for her students. In previous years, she has taken students on trips to Memphis, Galveston, Houston and New York City,
This semester, the experience she is offering is a first for Temple College students: an international trip. From May 18-25, Baker will be taking a 35-member chorus to Ireland for a week of music, culture and history.
“One of the things students say is the most influential experience of their academic careers is study abroad,” Baker said.
For her latest trip, Baker decided to partner with Austin Community College music professor Virginia Volpe. Baker met Volpe at an All-State Music Conference and the two went to Ireland last summer to do a preview trip.
The group will be flying into Shannon on the west coast of Ireland and will journey across the southern part of the country before ending up in Dublin.
The trip will include two concerts in different cities. The group will give its first concert May 20 at the Redemptorist Church at Mount St. Alphonsus in Limerick, and a second concert May 22 at St. Patrick’s Gateway Centre in Waterford City.
For the concerts, Baker and Volpe chose a program that consists primarily of American folk songs and spirituals, as well as a few pieces with an international flair and one contemporary Irish piece.
“When American groups come over (to Ireland) to sing, they (the Irish) want to experience American culture,” Baker said.
When they are not performing, the group will have the opportunity to visit a variety of
tourist attractions, including the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle in Cork, Bunratty Castle near Limerick, and Trinity College Dublin, which is home to one of the world’s oldest books. They also will participate in an Irish dancing workshop and watch a sheep dog demonstration outside Dublin.
Greg Madrid, a first-year student from Killeen, said the opportunity to go on the trip is one of the reasons he decided to attend Temple College.
“Ireland has been on my bucket list for a long time,” Madrid said. “Not only will I have an opportunity to see a beautiful place in the world, but I’ll also experience what it’s like for a singer to travel to different parts of the world and to see what opportunities they have in Europe.”