So, earlier last week, I started getting notes from University of Kentucky Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey about the UK Singers, Muhammad Ali and England. They and other dignitaries hopped across the pond for the Alltech FEI European Jumping and Dressage Championship, and some other events. McCorvey sent along a pretty detailed account Saturday, so I thought I’d share:
Last evening the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the UK Opera Program and Muhammad Ali were the featured guests at the Windsor Castle Alltech FEI European Jumping and Dressage Championship Gala Celebration held on the grounds of Windsor Castle. It was an exciting event as the 8 disciplines that will be featured at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games were presented to the European crowd. Governor Steve Beshear and his wife Jane Beshear along with Kentucky Horse Park officials, the city of Lexington officials, WEG Board Members and many others from Kentucky were present to celebrate the gala affair.
UK Opera students were the featured performers during the evening. Held in the main arena, the singers were positioned on a stage in the middle of the large arena. Thanks to fabulous arrangements and orchestrations prepared and taped by our own Johnie Dean, the singers sang several songs during the evening.
This is one of the most important trips that UKOT has ever taken. I think that the benefits from this trip will be huge in terms of exposure, opportunities for the students and exposure of the program to a European audience. The crowd was spectacular. I served as host for the evening as well as one of the singing performers. At the end of the evening, I introduced each one of our singers individually and the crowd gave each of them an amazing ovation. It was very clear that in addition to Ali, they were the stars of the evening. The high point certainly was the introduction of Muhammad Ali. As he made his way around the stadium in an open air Range Rover (which is the Queen’s personal car and was offered by her to Ali for the occasion), we sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before an emotional and enthusiastically charged crowd. It was a spine-tingling moment in the evenings show. I was so proud of how professional the students were. Everyone here was amazed that they were students!
The singers have been presenting two shows a day at the Alltech Kentucky Village since Wednesday. They have 4 different programs prepared which they are rotating each day. After more shows on Saturday and Sunday we will leave for Dublin, Ireland on Monday to perform at a Gala Event in the evening and then on Tuesday we travel to Ennis, Ireland and then Dromoland Castle in the Southwest of Ireland to perform. These appearances are also with Muhammad Ali. The folks in Ennis, Ireland are comparing the visit of Ali with the visit of Gandhi! Quite amazing. It’s a pretty exciting trip for everyone and a huge Kentucky success!