JBU Cathedral Choir Tours Ireland

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The Cathedral Choir gained permission to record their latest CD at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

Siloam Springs, Ark (June 23, 2003) - As you sit and talk to Paul Smith, director of the Cathedral Choir at John Brown University, about his recent trip to Ireland, excitement washes over his face. Most would not spend part of their summer vacation with a group of college students touring over seas. However, his passion for music is the driving force that led Smith to take a group of students to Ireland. Smith took the 50 cathedral choir members along with faculty and staff from JBU throughout Ireland for two weeks on the annual cathedral choir tour. Traditionally, the choir goes on tour during spring break in late March. This year, for the first time in the history of the choir, the tour took place outside of the U.S. While on tour, the choir performed a selection of compositions from different musical eras to audiences in Ballynahinch, Downpatrick, Portstewart, Carryduff and Bangor. “Night after night the choir received thunderous ovations,” Smith said. “It was hard to come to the end of the concerts.” People came from miles around to hear the rich sounds of the choir. Smith recalls that, “an electric hush fell over the audience as they listened intently to the concert.” The choir is known for their extensive repertoire of a capella music a style not well known in Ireland, Smith said. “Listeners were extremely interested in the fact that a choir could sing beautiful six-to-eight part music that blended in pitch and tone color completed by rich lyrics,” Smith said. “The people of Ireland responded so graciously to our every performance," Elaine Sbanotto said. Sbanotto accompanied the choir to help with the logistics of taking a large group of students on tour. “The experience was priceless,” Sbanotto said. The choir was granted permission to spend several days recording at Downpatrick Cathedral in Down County, Northern Ireland. The choir spent two days and over 14 hours of tedious work recording songs performed on tour. The CD includes African pieces, hymns, and a selection of modern and traditional works. The recording also features student choral assistant, Ian Aipperspach performing a fanfare on the Down Cathedral organ. “Recording in Down Cathedral was both a privilege and an honor,” said Paul Smith, conductor of the cathedral choir and assistant professor of music. “The choir worked hard for two days to produce the recording.” Mid-way through the tour the choir traveled to the North Coast to visit Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, and Giant’s Causeway. The northern coast became a favorite spot of the students. After hiking, students enjoyed seeing the Giant’s Causeway. A group of students sang in a cave underneath the cliffs on a pebbly beach with a single beam of light filtering through the mouth of the cave several yards away, Rebecca Webler, junior music major recalls. “It was an awesome experience, one I will not forget.” The choir also visited many schools, where they gave concerts and shared with the students about JBU and the music program. “I can’t stop talking about this trip! There was something about it I just can’t explain,” Sbanotto said. “It was a beautiful country with beautiful people that responded to God’s outpouring of love. The choir worked very hard; they literally shined.” The CD recorded at Downs Cathedral will be released in the fall. To purchase the CD, visit our website at www.jbu.edu. John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of more than 1,700 students from 42 states and 45 countries. JBU is a member of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. ###

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