“Irish Music–a warm blanket in which to snuggle and wrap oneself…” by Doug Barbieri

I’m sitting here trying to marshal my thoughts, trying vainly to capture all of the buzz that is alive in my head. I woke up this morning, took a jog in a lovely Northern California dawn, taking in the cool air, the music of Ireland still freshly pulsing through my head. I hear Ray’s voice and his wife Jane’s lovely harmonies as they sung folk song after folk song, all the while tooling around througn the Irish countryside in our tour bus.

I hear the Irish heart in the form of melodies, all stringing together in my head, a malange of tunes and haromnies weaving in and out, mixed together with visions of white bunchning Irish clouds drifting over vivid green plains and mountains, Sheep, cattle, rock fences, a shepherd in complete aural command of his sheep dogs, the sound of the bus in motion, the hypnotic lilt of our driver Denis as he schooled us on the rich Irish history and taught us Irish humor and proper pronunciation of Gaelic, the sound of Euro coins in my satchel, the color of the Euro notes, the taste of Guinness in my mouth as we sat in a room with dozens of Irish who could sing like nobody’s business at the Teacher’s Club in Dubin, the color of the poached eggs we had each morning and the crispness of the rashers (Irish bacon), the potatoes and fried tomatoes, coffee, tea and scones. The deep richness of Irish butter and chocolate. The breathtaking churches and cathedrals with the sun streaming in through the stained glass windows, the echo of our cut-offs in those dramatic spaces, standing and singing in a solo in Yoruba to rapt European audiences, the feeling of tears of joy streaming down my face as I presented a gift of appreciation from the choir in an ancient Celtic church to my wife and director, Tracia, without whom none of this would ever had happened, The awe of standing in places that have history spanning thousands of years and feeling a part of it. The beautiful feeling of being wrapped in a thick warm blanket of love which is the Irish music, the yearning, the pain, the joy, love of life these people have cannot be adequetly transcribed on paper or presented on something as transient as a blog entry.  But I do my best here.

I sat in awed reverence feeling privileged to have been allowed to partake in the Teacher’s Club singing pub session, where the doors are closed to the rest of the pub and the only rules are to be quiet, listen and if you feel the urge to sing, do it in turn. I sang my heart out, pouring the love that I felt in that lush, rich and green land, my travelling companions with me, each of whom I consider family now. This trip has brought us together and when we sang for the Irish in the room, it was from the heart. We gave them a bit of ourselves and they in turn gave us something we will never forget.

We sang this way all over the country, my VAE family and I. As each concert was behind us, we felt more and more connected with the rich Irish fabric of life, and to each other.

Though I have sung in choirs throughout the years, it was in Ireland where I was taught how to really sing.

I am forever changed by my Irish experience  and am incredibly thankful to have had this opportunity. I think about the tune we sang with the joint Irish choir in Bandon, County Cork, filling the old cathedral with song. This sums up, I think, how we all feel:
“May the road rise to greet you, may the wind be always at your back.
“May the sun shine warm, upon your face, the rain fall softly on your flelds.”
“And until we meet again, until we meet again. May God hold you on the palm of his hand.”

It was with bitter sweetness in my heart that we said to Ireland, “Slan go foill!”

– Doug Barbieri (tenor)


One Response to ““Irish Music–a warm blanket in which to snuggle and wrap oneself…” by Doug Barbieri”

  1. Allegra Silberstein Says:

    what a beautiful letter…by time I was half way through there were tears in my eyes….all the best to you and Tracia and all…allegra

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