LARAMIE -- The Laramie High School Orchestra, directed by Sarah McCoy, will be heading to Ireland to perform and represent Laramie and Wyoming on June 3 and will return June 11.

In preparation for this exciting adventure, the orchestra will perform its Ireland repertoire at a Bon Voyage Concert at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, in the Laramie High School Theater.

Courtesy of Sarah McCoy
Courtesy of Sarah McCoy

The evening begins with the “Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor; Allegro by Antonio Vivaldi.” Three senior cellists - Derk Lyford, Woodrow Gamboa, and Jaxon Cox, and junior cellist  Bryce Bienz - will solo on this piece.

Vivaldi will be followed with “Concerto for Four Violins in D Major” by Telemann, “Krakowiak” by Grazina Baczewisc, and “The Ludlows” (from “Legends of the Fall”) by James Horner, arr. Moss. The grand finale will be “Hoe Down” (from “Rodeo”) by Aaron Copeland.

Director McCoy is a graduate of LHS, and for about 20 years, she said the music department has fostered a tradition of travel.

“Specifically, performance tours,” said McCoy. “Every three years, the orchestra travels. We rotate between the choir, the band, and the orchestra.”

McCoy said the first year in her role as orchestra director, the group went to Washington, D.C., performing at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“This time around, I wanted to feature an international performance tour, where we could spread our wings and go across the pond.”

The LHS orchestra will be traveling with members of the Kelly-Walsh HS orchestra.

“Their director, Gary DePaolo, is a good friend of mine. We usually have no trouble getting kids to sign up for these tours, but sometimes with the orchestra, the instrumentation can be a challenge. So I asked Gary for support. We’re going to play together, and it will be a great experience that Wyoming kids can have together.”

McCoy said 44 orchestra members are representing Laramie HS, while 32 will attend from KW.

“It will be a great tour group,” said McCoy. “I am really excited for this particular tour, because not only will we be sightseeing and performing, but one of our performances will also be a shared musical exchange with a local Irish orchestra, a student group called the Clare Music Makers from Ennis, Ireland. They study at an academy outside of regular school time, and they are students about the same age as our Laramie and Casper students. So we’ll actually share a performance, then end the performance by playing a tune together – all three orchestras combined.”

There will also be a group of violinists and violists from the String Academy of Wyoming, a local private lesson organization, performing with the orchestra.

Isaiah Wright, a fifth-grader at Snowy Range Academy, is the youngest student making the trip. McCoy said although he is young, he has been playing the viola for five years, and he plays the instrument very well. His mother, Amy Wright, is the music teacher at the Snowy Range Academy and is a cello teacher. She is assisting McCoy and the orchestra prepare for the trip.

“I think this is a great opportunity because I get to play my instrument and go to another country. It will be a fun time, but I want to do my best when I play. I’m excited to go,” said the young Wright.

“Isaiah’s viola skills are good enough that he’s going to join the group, and be a part of this musical experience with us,” said McCoy.

Amy Wright will also be traveling as a chaperone and assistant to the group.

“We are really looking forward to sharing our love of music with the people in Ireland. It will be an amazing experience for these fine young musicians!” said Amy.

Molly Peper is a senior orchestra member and plays the cello.

“We get to play at cathedrals, we get to visit some old castles and the Blarney Stone, and see the sights. I’ve never been out of the country, and I know we’ll have a lot of fun. This is my senior trip.”

“I think travel is an important thing for young students to experience, especially international travel,” McCoy said. “It gives them the opportunity to spread their wings, experience a new culture. I think they always come back and appreciate our own culture a little bit more, and maybe they see our day-to-day activities in a different way. Certainly, as a musician, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The combined LHS-KW orchestra will have two performances in Ireland, one at the Galway Cathedral in Galway, and the other will be the shared performance with the Clare Music Makers at the Auditorium Colaiste in Ennistymon.

“And, we will have one Master Class,” McCoy said. “The class will be conducted by a world-class cellist from Dublin, Ailbhe McDonagh. It will be a true learning experience.”

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