Friday, February 06, 2015

Weekend Ramblings Far from Home….

 Our weekend began early…really early in the morning on Thursday with a 6:30am arrival at Philadelphia airport for our 8am flight to Laredo. A couple planes, with a lay-over in Dallas, later and we landed in the tiny little airport in Laredo, TX. Palm trees, cactus, and tumbleweeds lined the road as our hostess, Toni, drove us to the hotel to drop off our bags. We met the dancers brought in from Austin to dance with Haley and Dylan. Toni took us all to an amazing Native American shop full of great souvenirs, she encouraged everyone to chose something they'd like to take home "as long as it fit in our suitcases."

From the shop, we headed to the Texas A&M campus where Haley and Dylan had time and room to rehearse with their adorable dancers, Sara and Joclyn, with their teachers helping.

I love how Irish music and dance brings people together. From the moment we met the girls, their teachers, and parents, it felt like we'd known them forever. Most of us went to dinner at a wonderful, delicious Mexican restaurant. Yummy!

We went back to the hotel room after. Haley insisted on practicing her classical music before we turned in for the night.

Friday morning we had to be up and out early. The concert, The Rising Stars Concert sponsored by the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra for the school children of Laredo, was to begin at 10am so we had to arrive early for a sound check and quick run-through on stage. They had given Haley the music to Hallelujah Chorus the night before and she, an amazing young classical violinist, Skye Park, and a wonderful young cellist, were to join the local middle school orchestra and high school chorus for this piece in a finale.

The school children began arriving around 9:30am and they were very excited when we passed them in the hall a couple times on our way to and from the rest room. There were over 900 students and teachers in attendance. The concert was amazing. All the "rising stars" performed wonderfully and the audience was very enthusiastic, attentive, and appreciative. They gave standing ovations after every piece!

Hallelujah Chorus finale
 The concert ran about 45 minutes late so some of the students had to get on buses back to school immediately but the ones who could stay were given a chance to meet the young musicians and dancers and get autographs. The performers felt like rock stars!

Meet and greet session.

The young performers with Toni.
After the concert we all went to a luncheon with Toni and her husband at La Posado hotel and restaurant. The food was amazing!

Back at the hotel, Haley went for a very cold swim in the heated pool (outside!). She practiced for a bit then the three of us took a walk to see another Native American store.

Toni picked us up the next morning to drive us the two hours to San Antonio. We hung out the next couple days seeing the sites like The Alamo, the Riverwalk, and Riverwalk Mall. We enjoyed a haunted house and a Guinness Book of World Records museum. We also went to the Buckhorn Museum and Texas Rangers Museum. We walked around in t-shirts or light jackets in February. It was wonderful!

Remember the Alamo!

The Riverwalk.
We flew home on Monday. Our flight was delayed an hour and the gate changed five times in Dallas which meant getting on the shuttle to go from gate to gate but we eventually made it home very late…though the landing, the plane went a little sideways as we touched down, was rough.

Our fun continued through last night…a number of months ago Haley was photographed by Robin Hiteshew in black and white for an exhibit he was putting together called The Faces of Irish Music. On Thursday night, the exhibit opened at the Irish Consulate in NYC. Haley and I were among the invitees. It was amazing seeing my twelve year old daughter's photograph among the 50 photos of icons of Irish music…Andy McGann, Martin Wynne, Brian Conway, Mick Moloney, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Eileen Ivers, John Whelan, Liz Carroll, etc… What an honor!

Haley playing tunes below her portrait.
Haley played some tunes with the young musicians of the Pearl River Ceili Band and later in the evening with the other adult musicians.

Haley with the Pearl River Ceili Band.
The adult musician session.

The highlight of Haley's night though was meeting Pat McGann, the wife of one of Haley's favorite fiddle players, Andy McGann. He passed away before Haley was born but his CDs are some of Haley's favorites to listen to. She also met two grandchildren of Michael Coleman, another of her musical "heroes."

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