Tuesday 23 May 2017

Choir wings it for rehearsals to perfect new song for Obama

Fiona Ellis and Mark Folens

AN Irish choir is still trying to learn a new song just days before they sing for US President Barack Obama.

The National Chamber Choir of Ireland will perform the song for Mr Obama on St Patrick's Day, but received it only on Friday. The song, entitled 'Gné na Gaeltacht', (The Gaeltacht Face), from a poem by Michael Harnett, was composed specially for the presidential performance in the White House, by Bill Whelan.

Yesterday Alan Leech, a tenor with the choir, told the Irish Independent that the choir would all be humming on the plane for the entire trip to America.

"There will be a lot of humming on the flight over. We'll sound like a bunch of budgerigars trying to learn the music," he laughed. "The song came off the press Friday morning; it's a very difficult piece. It is a virtuoso tour-de-force.

"When you do something that showy, you tend to have a lot more time to sort of get it on your body, but we don't have that luxury. But we do have a long flight ahead of us, that's what that is for."

The show will be the first time the choir has performed in America. Both the Washington trip and the tour have been supported by Culture Ireland as part of Imagine Ireland, a year-long celebration of Irish arts in America.

"It's some debut in the States, really, to be performing in the White House," Imelda Dervin, acting chief executive of the choir, said. "It's really taking it by storm, starting off in the White House on Thursday."

The choir will be singing to an audience of more than 600 people, and expects to sing four songs for about 10 minutes. As well as the new song, they will perform the quintessentially Irish songs 'Danny Boy', 'My Lagan Love' and 'The Flower of Magherally'.

The choir will perform twice -- once when the dignitaries are coming into the White House, and then when they have an audience with the president himself. "I think we're all dying to get a glimpse of the great man," Ms Dervin said.

The choir is putting the finishing touches to its US tour in October, when it will be playing in Notre Dame, Kansas City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland.

Irish Independent

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