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Singers prepare for Ireland trip

With St. Patrick's Day approaching, a musical trip to Ireland is on the minds of musicians at Hood River Valley High School.

The HRV Chamber Singers will travel to the cities and countryside of the Emerald Isle March 22-30, in the third European visit in four by the school music department. The 35 students will sing sacred as well as secular music, including one piece penned for the occasion by director Mark Steighner.

"The visit to Ireland will give the students a sense of connection to history," Steighner said. "They will gain a universal experience, of singing in front of people in a totally different place. They'll experience different reactions to the same music they have been performing here."

Local warm-up performances included a recital March 8 at Riverside Community Church.

The group will leave for Portland International Airport from the HRV parking lot at 3:15 a.m. March 22, with 11 parent chaperones, fly via Atlanta aboard Delta Airlines and arrive that day in Dublin at 10:20 a.m. Irish time.

On March 25 the group will perform a joint concert with high school singers in the village of Killorglin. On March 27 the group will sing at Waterfront City Hall and tour the famed crystal factory.

On Good Friday, March 29, the students will sing in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

The group will be performing in venues of all sizes, from Killorglin to Killarney.

"I always look forward to the smaller towns and villages," said Steighner, who led choir trips to England in 1998 and Scotland in 2000. "It's good getting to know the people a little and getting their reaction to our music," he said.

The trip will be about more than singing, though. Tour stops will include Trinity College in Dublin, Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone, and the Rock of Cashel, one of the country's outstanding cultural and architectural sites.

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The group has been raising funds as a group and as individuals, and has received generous support from a variety of civic groups, Steighner said. Donations to help defray costs can still be made by calling the high school at 386-4500. For further information, contact Steighner by e-mail at: msteighner@hoodriver.k12.or.us

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