Thursday, June 29, 2017

Vox Peregrini -- Day One

The Wicklow Way is a near hundred mile pilgrimage through the mountainous forests along the Ireland's eastern coast. Vox Peregrini is a group of professional musicians under the direction of Dr. John Wiles, professor of choral performance at the University or Northern Iowa. He has gathered twelve highly trained and talented performers who would sing together for the first time the night before the pilgrimage began.

Fourteen pilgrims walking several different pilgrimages simultaneously in the same Irish mist; the pilgrimage of a choir becoming one voice, the pilgrimage of the formation of a community, and fourteen individual pilgrims walking their own soul journey. John and four of this year's group walked and sang together with Vox Peregrini 2015. They are also making a unique pilgrimage; those who walk a familiar path in a new way—while the trail is the basically the same, the pilgrimage is raw in its freshness. And for me, this is my fifth time to walk the Way. Always we begin again, the unknown lies in the subtleties of the familiar. My personal pilgrimage with these people is to be present if needed and unseen at all other times.

We began at the southern end of the trail in Clonegal. An ancient village who has suffered many battles of oppression. In the Irish Confederate wars of 1650, the Englishman Cromwell gathered Catholic monks and murdered them in the village. The ghosts of those souls are a part of any Wicklow pilgrimage. To walk the Way is to know who walks with us, the seen and the unseen, the weight of the past and the present, the tragedy of history, personal and collective.

Vox Peregrini 2107 is a vibrant wave of youthful energy and old souls. They sing with enthusiastic power and walk with a long spirited gait. Nothing seems beyond their possibility. I find it exhilarating to walk with them.

Day one went as it should. The weather was brilliant, cloudy, cool, with a light mist. Vox Peregrini kept an aggressive pace. They sang four pieces beautifully at the midday break. They climbed the major hill with ease. We arrived at our destination on time. Supper was perfect. And their singing was appreciated by the patrons at the golf club where we dined. All is well and that only make me wonder for tomorrow.

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