Itâ€™s the stuff bucket lists are madeÂ of. Travel to Dublinâ€”check. Travel toÂ Dublin for St. Patrickâ€™s Dayâ€”check,Â check. Travel to Dublin for St. Patrickâ€™sÂ Day and march in the St. Patrickâ€™s DayÂ paradeâ€”check, check, check.
Mines musical engineers hit theÂ road in March for the trip of a lifetimeÂ to Dublin, Ireland. Musicians from theÂ marching band, orchestra, and choir,Â accompanied by supporting alumni,Â faculty, and friends, made a musicalÂ journey to the Emerald Isle, with the St.Â Patrickâ€™s Day parade being only one ofÂ many trip highlights.
Day one began with a Dublin City busÂ tour, which featured Oâ€™Connell Streetâ€™sÂ historic monuments and a glimpseÂ of the Old Parliament building. ThisÂ inside look at Dublinâ€™s rich history alsoÂ included a visit to Trinity College andÂ its renowned library, home of the BookÂ of Kells. Typically, students wouldnâ€™t setÂ foot in a library during Spring Break, butÂ this was a memorable experience forÂ all participants. â€œThere was so much toÂ learn about the history of Ireland and itsÂ people,â€ says Ray Priestley â€™79, presidentÂ of the Mines Alumni Association BoardÂ of Directors, who traveled with theÂ group.
The Mines group visited the DublinÂ Institute of Technology (DIT), whereÂ they were treated by the hosts to anÂ educational and entertaining lecture.Â â€œMark Deegan, the head of apprenticeshipÂ and engagement at DIT, was soÂ impressed by the knowledge, interest,Â and open minds of his guests that heÂ cancelled his afternoon commitmentsÂ and personally led our afternoon tourÂ of the Hill of Tara,â€ says Priestley. â€œHeÂ looks forward to growing the connectionÂ to new friends at Mines.â€
Day two included a concert tourÂ through Waterford, Ireland, beginningÂ with a performance by Minesâ€™ orchestraÂ and choir at Sacred Heart Parish.Â Next stops included a tour throughÂ the Waterford Crystal Factory and anÂ afternoon concert at the Church ofÂ Ireland Cathedral at the cityâ€™s CathedralÂ Square, featuring spiritual music of theÂ United States.
Mines musiciansâ€”and even someÂ of the less musically inclined parentsÂ and alumniâ€”had an opportunity toÂ experience traditional Irish music atÂ Waltons New School of Music, whereÂ they participated in whistle lessons, anÂ introduction to the uilleann pipes (theÂ national bagpipes of Ireland), and fiddleÂ lessons. The day wrapped up with aÂ musical pub crawl, featuring local IrishÂ musicians who told stories and sharedÂ their culture through song.
FROM MARV KAY STADIUM TO THEÂ STREETS OF DUBLIN
The defining moment of the trip wasÂ a golden opportunity for members ofÂ the Mines marching band: performing inÂ the 21st annual St. Patrickâ€™s Day paradeÂ while marching through the streetsÂ of Dublin. Accompanied by the MinesÂ choir singing the fight song and a specialÂ appearance by beloved mascot MarvinÂ the Miner, orchestra members, parents,Â alumni, and friends donned the classicÂ red and black plaid flannel shirts andÂ hard hats.
â€œApproximately two years ago weÂ began the process of getting into theÂ parade,â€ says Robert Klimek, directorÂ of the Mines Music Program. â€œWe had toÂ submit videos of our half-time shows,Â as well as recommendations from theÂ University of Colorado Puebloâ€™s bandÂ director and Metropolitan Stateâ€™s bandÂ director.â€ Video submissions wereÂ reviewed in Ireland, and the band wasÂ awarded a place in the parade with aÂ formal invitation from the Lord Mayor ofÂ Dublin.
â€œAt the completion of our very firstÂ music and engineering trip to Rome,Â Italy, in 2012, one of the participantsÂ handed out small silver leprechaun pinsÂ telling everyone that we were destined toÂ march in the Dublin, Ireland, St. Patrickâ€™sÂ Day parade,â€ says Klimek. â€œAt the time,Â this seemed like a dream too large for usÂ to accomplish. I carried that pin with meÂ as we marched this year.â€
The parade experience was extraÂ special for Mines alumnus DarienÂ Oâ€™Brien â€™83, who traveled to Dublin withÂ his wife Felicia and daughter Rosalie, aÂ sophomore at Mines and member of theÂ marching band. â€œThe highlight of my tripÂ was having the opportunity to play myÂ trumpet and march next to my daughter,Â who was playing her flugelhorn,â€ saysÂ Oâ€™Brien. â€œThis was the first time thatÂ Rosalie and I marched together.â€
Both father and daughter areÂ members of the honorary band fraternity,Â Kappa Kappa Psi. Rosalie gave her fatherÂ marching instructions, such as keepingÂ good posture, holding the trumpetÂ horizontal, and keeping in line with theÂ other trumpets. â€œWhen Rosalie was aÂ little girl I taught her how to play theÂ trumpet, so it was especially memorableÂ that she was now mentoring me,â€ saysÂ Oâ€™Brien.
Since Oâ€™Brienâ€™s days as a student,Â the Mines Music Program has grownÂ significantly. Klimek, along with JonathanÂ Cullison and Maggie Greenwood, bothÂ teaching professors in the Mines MusicÂ Program, have molded the marchingÂ band, choir, jazz band, and orchestra intoÂ internationally recognized performanceÂ groups. With support and trip planning byÂ Catherine Skokan â€™70, MSc â€™72, PhD â€™75,Â a retired Mines professor who still playsÂ in the orchestra, the music program hasÂ undergone significant growth. The bandÂ has even been awarded two first-placeÂ â€œBest of Bandsâ€ prizes by the DenverÂ St. Patrickâ€™s Day Parade Committee forÂ participation in the local parade.
Oâ€™Brien recalls when the marchingÂ band only played at the football gamesÂ and marched in downtown Golden.Â But in the past four years, Mines musicÂ ensembles have ventured abroad,Â performing in Rome, Italy, Jamaica, andÂ Peru. Adding Dublin to the list was theÂ icing on the cake, or, shall we say, theÂ corned beef on the cabbage.
â€œI fell in love with Mines becauseÂ of the people in it, and this trip was anÂ incredible opportunity to perform withÂ those amazing people,â€ says MeganÂ Macdonald â€™11, MS â€™13. â€œThe camaraderieÂ amidst the frenzy of the enormous DublinÂ crowds was a euphoric moment in myÂ life. It became a reunion of friends, sorelyÂ missed. The â€˜Mâ€™ still stands for home,Â noÂ matter where the band marches.â€
To view additional photos from the Dublin tripÂ by Mines students, faculty, alumni, and friends,Â visit minesalumni.com/Dublin2016Â or searchÂ #minesdigsdublin on social media.
In spring of 2017, the Mines MusicÂ Program will travel to Florence,Â Italy. For details about the trip, visitÂ www.minesalumni.com/Florence2017.