While most UCD students eagerly await the last week of the autumn semester as the end of a long term of 9-am lectures, endless assignments and stress-riddled exams, the Choral Scholars view the week of the 16th December as the culmination of a term of long evening rehearsals in Memorial Hall, overflowing folders and many, many collective breaths.
However, for first-year scholars in particular (such as yours truly..), the Christmas concert is also one of the biggest milestones of our time as a Choral Scholar. Most of the repertoire in our programme for the Christmas concert was handed out on the evening of our very first rehearsal in September. Back then, just keeping up with the number of markings that had to be written on each score was daunting. Yet, less than three months later we were performing a whole programme of music in front of incredible audiences for three sold-out shows in the stunning Newman University Church in Dublin.
The concert programme included many classic Christmas pieces in new choral arrangements by our Musical Director, Desmond Earley such as 'Carol of the Bells' and 'O Holy Night' as well as new choral pieces written for the ensemble such as 'Be all Merry' (Eoghan Desmond) and 'Christe Redemptor Omnium ' (Ivo Antognini) as well as one of our favourites, 'In Dulci Jubilo' ( Mathew Culloton). We also performed a selection of other pieces during the concert such as 'My love is in a Light Attire' (Eriks Esenvalds) based on the poem of UCD alumnus James Joyce, in addition to a number of traditional Irish arrangements. As well as being able to perform so many incredible pieces of music we were also lucky to be accompanied by cellist Ailbhe McDonagh, violinist Lynda O'Connor and our esteemed colleague, Tristan Russcher, on piano.
While the choir bonded throughout the term while working on the concert programme, we also enjoyed our choir secret Santa (thanks for the fluffy reindeer, Sadhbh!), shared journeys back to UCD's Belfield Campus on the 46A bus and of course the many journeys, which seemed never-ending, up to our dressing rooms on the top floor of the incredible Museum of Literature Ireland.
Of course, being a Choral Scholar means that the work is never over and with the first trimester of the academic year down, we have now started work on an exciting second trimester, including the choir's third album recording with Signum Records. We're excited about what's in store over the coming months!