Instrumentation or Chorus: SSAATTBB and Irish flute or recorder
Difficulty: High School, University, or Community
Text: Cathal McGarvey
Star of the County Down (2012) is an arrangement of the traditional Irish folk ballad of the same name, premiered by the University of Tennessee Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Angie Batey for their summer Ireland tour.
The ballad tells the story of a young farmer who falls victim to love at first sight. Upon asking a local townsman about the “sweet colleen” he noticed, he’s informed that she is named Rosie McCann, and is considered the “Star of the County Down.” He then takes a vow to court her at the next fair, where he will arrive in his Sunday best, and that he will not work until they are married. We’re left hanging from there, wondering if he was ever successful in his endeavor.
Where most choral versions of this folk song aim for cleanliness, this arrangement was composed to be “less King’s Singers, more Orthodox Celts” in style. A brisk tempo and harsh percussive consonants bring this arrangement some heavy grit, not unlike that of contemporary a cappella groups of today.