Music At the Burren

Tuesday Evening, June 12. We started work sessions yesterday morning and to my delight, already this morning our music concentrators were able to demonstrate to their visual artist colleagues three tunes on the tin whistle. Andy Cavacco, Nate Hunt, Hilary Lahan, and Tyler Matayoshi are truly quick studies at soaking up musical ideas, and I know they are going to produce fine work. Our workspace is the top floor of the 16th century Newtown Castle, around which the Burren College is built, and from which our sounds are beginning to waft across the campus. After finishing an aisling composition (in which Ireland the country is compared to a beautiful woman) this morning, we began work on our first Kerry polka. Tomorrow may see us tackle a hornpipe, and the students are beginning to frame their individual composition projects. This afternoon, we musicians joined the visual artists for an afternoon hike up a rather precipitous mountain right at the ocean’s edge, with views 30 miles or more across Galway Bay to the Aran Islands and Conamara. We had as our guide Shane, a farmer/naturalist incredibly well informed — in a thoroughly interdisciplinary manner — on everything from flora and fauna, natural and political history, to ecology and education. Not to mention that I now understand something about Bronze Age irrigation technology and the latest issues in Irish animal husbandry. Halfway up the side of the mountain, a storm system which had been in the distance began to show every sign of having our precise GPS coordinates, making a beeline right at us. What to do? Shane produced extra rain coats, hats, and gloves out of his bottomless backpack for us and continued with his narrative as we were engulfed in sheets of rain. Ten minutes or so later, the sky began to clear and for me, the rest of the hike was a total victory lap. At the summit we spent about 15 minutes in a Ring Fort dating from I don’t know which millennium B.C. and then began a thankfully gradual descent back to sea level. Tonight I have a glorious glowing sensation in my legs and cannot wait to try out a horizontal position. Tomorrow early we will be back to the heart of the work in our castle tower.