UMass Amherst Wind Ensemble and Chamber Choir to Tour, Perform in Europe

Matthew Westgate
Matthew Westgate, director of wind studies
Tony Thornton photo by Jon Crispin
Tony Thornton, director of choral studies

AMHERST, Mass – The University of Massachusetts Amherst department of music and dance wind and choral ensembles will have the rare opportunity to study and perform at sites in Europe during the summer break.

The UMass Amherst Wind Ensemble, conducted by director of wind studies Matthew Westgate, is currently on its first international tour in Ireland between May 14 and 24. The group’s itinerary began in Cork with a shared concert with the Midleton Concert Band; then on to Killarney for a cultural exchange and performance with the renowned music and dance group Ceoltóirí Sliabh Luachra; and wrapped up in Dublin for multiple performances, most notably a chamber concert at the Mayor of Dublin's private residence and a featured performance at the Christ Church Cathedral. Members of the Wind Ensemble also visited the Artane School of Music to learn about music education in Ireland and work with Ronan O'Reilly, the conductor of the Ireland Youth Wind Ensemble.

Later this summer, the UMass Amherst Chamber Choir, led by director of choral studies Tony Thornton, will serve as the chorus-in-residence at the 2017 Brescia International Early Music School & Festival, which takes place from July 21 to  August 1 in Northern Italy. The host organizations for the Choir’s residency are Santa Cecilia Dipartimento di Musica Antica Brescia and Palma Choralis, a research group and early music ensemble that specializes in historically-informed performance practice.

During their time in Italy, the Chamber Choir will collaborate with both organizations to perform works by Italian composers from late Renaissance and early Baroque Periods. The Choir will also perform in concerts or at Mass services in Salò, S. Salvatore in Brescia, Reggio Emilia, Maderno/Gargnano, and a performance at S. Giuseppe in Brescia. Singers will have an opportunity to visit Castello Sforzesco and view the collection of historical instruments in Milan and the museum and historical instrument collection in Salò.

These tours were made possible in part through donations to UMassGives and through funding from the department of music and dance and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.