It’s the stuff bucket lists are made of. Travel to Dublin—check. Travel to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day—check, check. Travel to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day and march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade—check, check, check.
Mines musical engineers hit the road in March for the trip of a lifetime to Dublin, Ireland. Musicians from the marching band, orchestra, and choir, accompanied by supporting alumni, faculty, and friends, made a musical journey to the Emerald Isle, with the St. Patrick’s Day parade being only one of many trip highlights.
Day one began with a Dublin City bus tour, which featured O’Connell Street’s historic monuments and a glimpse of the Old Parliament building. This inside look at Dublin’s rich history also included a visit to Trinity College and its renowned library, home of the Book of Kells. Typically, students wouldn’t set foot in a library during Spring Break, but this was a memorable experience for all participants. “There was so much to learn about the history of Ireland and its people,” says Ray Priestley ’79, president of the Mines Alumni Association Board of Directors, who traveled with the group.
The Mines group visited the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), where they were treated by the hosts to an educational and entertaining lecture. “Mark Deegan, the head of apprenticeship and engagement at DIT, was so impressed by the knowledge, interest, and open minds of his guests that he cancelled his afternoon commitments and personally led our afternoon tour of the Hill of Tara,” says Priestley. “He looks forward to growing the connection to new friends at Mines.”
Day two included a concert tour through Waterford, Ireland, beginning with a performance by Mines’ orchestra and choir at Sacred Heart Parish. Next stops included a tour through the Waterford Crystal Factory and an afternoon concert at the Church of Ireland Cathedral at the city’s Cathedral Square, featuring spiritual music of the United States.
Mines musicians—and even some of the less musically inclined parents and alumni—had an opportunity to experience traditional Irish music at Waltons New School of Music, where they participated in whistle lessons, an introduction to the uilleann pipes (the national bagpipes of Ireland), and fiddle lessons. The day wrapped up with a musical pub crawl, featuring local Irish musicians who told stories and shared their culture through song.
FROM MARV KAY STADIUM TO THE STREETS OF DUBLIN
The defining moment of the trip was a golden opportunity for members of the Mines marching band: performing in the 21st annual St. Patrick’s Day parade while marching through the streets of Dublin. Accompanied by the Mines choir singing the fight song and a special appearance by beloved mascot Marvin the Miner, orchestra members, parents, alumni, and friends donned the classic red and black plaid flannel shirts and hard hats.
“Approximately two years ago we began the process of getting into the parade,” says Robert Klimek, director of the Mines Music Program. “We had to submit videos of our half-time shows, as well as recommendations from the University of Colorado Pueblo’s band director and Metropolitan State’s band director.” Video submissions were reviewed in Ireland, and the band was awarded a place in the parade with a formal invitation from the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
“At the completion of our very first music and engineering trip to Rome, Italy, in 2012, one of the participants handed out small silver leprechaun pins telling everyone that we were destined to march in the Dublin, Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day parade,” says Klimek. “At the time, this seemed like a dream too large for us to accomplish. I carried that pin with me as we marched this year.”
The parade experience was extra special for Mines alumnus Darien O’Brien ’83, who traveled to Dublin with his wife Felicia and daughter Rosalie, a sophomore at Mines and member of the marching band. “The highlight of my trip was having the opportunity to play my trumpet and march next to my daughter, who was playing her flugelhorn,” says O’Brien. “This was the first time that Rosalie and I marched together.”
Both father and daughter are members of the honorary band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi. Rosalie gave her father marching instructions, such as keeping good posture, holding the trumpet horizontal, and keeping in line with the other trumpets. “When Rosalie was a little girl I taught her how to play the trumpet, so it was especially memorable that she was now mentoring me,” says O’Brien.
Since O’Brien’s days as a student, the Mines Music Program has grown significantly. Klimek, along with Jonathan Cullison and Maggie Greenwood, both teaching professors in the Mines Music Program, have molded the marching band, choir, jazz band, and orchestra into internationally recognized performance groups. With support and trip planning by Catherine Skokan ’70, MSc ’72, PhD ’75, a retired Mines professor who still plays in the orchestra, the music program has undergone significant growth. The band has even been awarded two first-place “Best of Bands” prizes by the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee for participation in the local parade.
O’Brien recalls when the marching band only played at the football games and marched in downtown Golden. But in the past four years, Mines music ensembles have ventured abroad, performing in Rome, Italy, Jamaica, and Peru. Adding Dublin to the list was the icing on the cake, or, shall we say, the corned beef on the cabbage.
“I fell in love with Mines because of the people in it, and this trip was an incredible opportunity to perform with those amazing people,” says Megan Macdonald ’11, MS ’13. “The camaraderie amidst the frenzy of the enormous Dublin crowds was a euphoric moment in my life. It became a reunion of friends, sorely missed. The ‘M’ still stands for home, no matter where the band marches.”
To view additional photos from the Dublin trip by Mines students, faculty, alumni, and friends, visit minesalumni.com/Dublin2016 or search #minesdigsdublin on social media.
In spring of 2017, the Mines Music Program will travel to Florence, Italy. For details about the trip, visit www.minesalumni.com/Florence2017.