[caption id="attachment_1320" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Gartan Centre, Letterkenny, Donegal"][/caption] Apple Hill is returning to Ireland! Lenny, Elise, Sarah, Mike, and Rupert are excited for all that the annual December trip has come to mean: chamber music workshops, educational outreach shows, concerts, visits and music-making with summer participants and old friends, tea, and, of course, more tea. The tour begins in Belfast, Northern Ireland December 13-14 with educational outreach shows in local public schools. These shows trace the history of the string quartet with narration by Lenny and performances by the Apple Hill String Quartet. The school visits have been arranged by Sheila Sloan, mother of former Playing for Peace cello participant, David Sloan. Next, Lenny and the Quartet head north-west to Co. Donegal, Ireland to host a Weekend Chamber Music Workshop at the beautiful Gartan Centre. December 14-16 will be filled with chamber music coachings, an Apple Hill String Quartet concert at Conwal Church in Letterkenny on Saturday evening, wild gorgeous landscape, and, of course, more tea. The weekend ends with a fabulous participant concert for family and friends on Sunday afternoon. From Donegal, Apple Hill travels south-east to Dublin. After admiring the Book of Kells, Apple Hill begins a residency at the Royal Irish Academy of Music on December 18. Arranged by cellist and Head of Strings, Miriam Roycroft, the residency includes an Apple Hill String Quartet performance and a chamber music master class with Lenny and the Quartet. Finally, the U.S. Embassy in Dublin hosts a concert and reception on December 19 before Apple Hill returns to snowy New Hampshire. Months later, the Ireland-Apple Hill journey will continue at the 2013 Summer Chamber Music Workshop, held at our New Hampshire campus. With the support of generous friends, we hope to welcome Irish musicians to spend a month at the Workshop where they will play in chamber music groups with musicians from conflicting communities. In daily coachings, they will be taught the fundamental skills of chamber music: listening, watching, adjusting, being flexible, and being sensitive – the same skills needed to work and function effectively in the world. They will learn not only to play music but also to communicate and connect with each other. They will become part of a unique musical as well as human community, as they share meals, chores, and social events. The musical and human community of Irish “Apple Hillers” has become strong over the ten-plus years that Apple Hill has visited Ireland. We look forward to another tour, another summer, and all that they will bring.