The Tusculum College Community Chorus, along with members of the Greeneville High School Chorus recently returned from a performance tour in Scotland and Ireland that included five performances and stops in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The trip was coordinated by Tusculum Community Chorus Director Kathy May, and included members, past and present, of the Greeneville High School Chorus for which May was director for 32 years prior to her recent retirement. Nearly 50 people participated in the trip, with 31 performing as part of the choral group.
The group performed at five locations in Scotland and Ireland in places that May called “some of the most beautiful and acoustically perfect places in the world.”
On this tour, the combined group sang a primarily sacred repertoire based on the locations of their performances, but on a few occasions some secular music that including U.S. and Irish folk music.
As part of the tour, May said that the group participated in a choral workshop with the group Anuna, an Irish-Celtic group, and then performed with Anuna at a Presbyterian Church in Glasgow. It was during this performance that the group was surprised to find familiar faces among the congregation as Tusculum Arts Outreach Director Marilyn duBrisk and former Tusculum professor Wes DuBrisk, both of Greeneville, had worked into their travel schedule the opportunity to attend the performance.
“Many of our group had Irish-Scottish roots and it was especially exciting to explore this part of the world,” said May. She added that the tour and five performances gave the singers the opportunity to become a collective chorus by the end of the trip. “Each performance got better and by the last performance, we really were a choir.”
This was May’s second time coordinating a choral performance tour, having taken the Greeneville High School Chorus two years ago. Her current plan is to schedule a third touring trip in 2019.
Members of the Tusculum Community Chorus who participated in the tour include Matthew Brickey, Kathy Hoard, Tricia Chesnut, Thomas Ervin, Dr. Phil Thwing, Max Amoss, Ellen Shuck, Lauren Edwards, Beth Brimer, Christine Dinwiddie, Amy Thomas, Bobbie Clarkston, Courteney McCray, Emalee Gross, Sam McNeese and Madison Waddell.
It was a memorable experience for all involved, according to Hoard. “We had a variety of venues for our performances, although they were all churches. From a small church in Dublin to a huge cathedral in Edinburgh, we always felt welcome and warmly received – very much at home.”
She added that the most thrilling part of the trip for her was the performance in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh because it was so old – built in 1160. “To think we had added our voices to all those before us. And, then add to that the breathtaking stained glass windows and huge vaulted ceilings – wow! I was honored to sing with such a talented group and to be led by Kathy May. I’m ready to do it again.”
The Tusculum Community Chorus was established in 1996 to promote the traditions of choral singing in the Greeneville community and to provide an enriching ensemble experience for the students of Tusculum College. The chorus sings new and classic choral repertoire, travels together and supports choral music events in East Tennessee.