Kaneland Madrigals travel to Ireland

By on June 27, 2014
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Singers perform, see sights
KANELAND—Kaneland High School’s chamber choir, otherwise known as the Madrigals, traveled to Ireland earlier this month. The trip gave 29 students the chance to sing, check out sites and take in the culture.

According to a report by Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler, the Dunham Fund donated $8,000 to support the singers’ performance tour to Ireland, which took place June 5-13.

Bryan Kunstman, Fine Arts Department chair and choir director at Kaneland High School, said that the Dunham Fund money, as well as fundraisers the students held throughout last school year, were used to offset the cost of the trip. According to Kunstman, the choir’s concert earlier this month at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles raised over $1,000 for the trip.

Kunstman said that the Ireland trip was important on a lot of levels.

“Anytime you’re able to go overseas or travel and experience things in person, it makes a longer impact,” Kunstman said. “Learning through experiencing goes a lot further than by word of mouth; and even experiencing it through the music when you can put it in the spaces where the music was written for. You get to meet other people, sing in other cultures, get to experience communicating with others.”
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Students on the Ireland trip traveled to various churches and sang 16 choral selections. The places they performed included St. Columba’s Church in Ennis, St. Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway and St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork.

The choir sang mostly sacred songs. They also sang spiritual, contemporary, an Irish landscape poem. They even sang a choral piece Dolly Parton had performed, called “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” In addition, the Madrigals sang a varied version of the song “Eatnemen Vuelie” from the hit film “Frozen.”

When not performing, the students took in landscapes like the Cliffs of Moher along the Atlantic coast, and places like Bunratty Castle.

They also saw Irish dancing complete with lots of hopping and footwork and heard duet music from a harpist and violinist.

Sugar Grove resident Kayla Hedgren, a recent Kaneland High School graduate, went on the Ireland trip. She recalled what it was like to sing in some cathedrals with the Madrigals.

“The acoustics, the sound was angelic,” Hedgren said. “I don’t think that we realized—maybe we didn’t realize—how well we sounded as a group. I don’t think that we fully understand that until, to hear the sound echo in the cathedral and to hear yourself sing back, it really (is) such a moving thing. And to know that you’re in Ireland (is) just a cloud nine experience.”