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Celtic Christmas Carol Service - Review

Home > Toowoomba > Cultural Events | Family | Music
by Rachel Timmins (subscribe)
I am a chief writer for Weekend Notes, a copywriter, published poet and Editor of poetry magazine ‘Fruit Salad’ (on hold). I also write children's fiction and inspirational pieces.
Gaelic, harp & renewed ancient sounds
Aisling Celtic group Toowoomba 2015
Aisling: (L-R) Elaine, Richard, Zelda, Candice, Cheryl, Tonya, Sophie, Suzette. Starlight Strings: Hannah, Rachael, Rebecca, Joshua. Guest artists (centre): Abbey & Holly.

Celtic group Aisling (pronounced Ashling) sang stirring renditions of familiar as well as lesser known Christmas carols at St Luke's Anglican Church. 'That Night in Bethlehem' was sung in fabulously euphonic Gaelic by Elaine Coates, who is the group's musical director and also an accomplished choir conductor. 'Christmas Pipes' and 'Child in a Manger' were other pieces one doesn't hear that often.

Inspired by the Irish group Celtic Woman, singer Candice Moore began the group two years ago. Candice's vocals beautifully reflect the traditional Celtic style.

The 'Wexford Carol' was sung by Sophie with Rachael accompanying on the violin. 'Mary's Boy-Child' was performed with expression and feeling by Richard. A holy atmosphere dominated the whole performance though perhaps especially for the singing of 'Silent Night'.

Guest musicians Starlight Strings interspersed Aisling's sets with their delightful string quartet. There's something about the way the cello resonated under the historical church's roof that produced a feeling of awe and majesty.

A 36-string Celtic harp, a little 'a Capella', violin and perfect piano were some of the features of the event as well as bells akin to African shekeres used to great effect for the 'Carol of Bells'. The harp provided an additional strong feeling of traditional Celtic music, played by singer and harpist Suzette. To be more correct, the word for a folk harpist is 'harper'.

Young up-and-coming sopranos Abbey and Holly were guest artists who performed several songs with sweetness and heart. The 'Angel Carol' was performed as an engaging conversational duet. A haunting 'Gabrielle's Message' was one of Zelda's beautiful solos. 'Celtic Christmas' closed the event on a note of warmth.

Fiery-coloured costumes were reflected in the church banner's flames and the golden eagle, a remnant of the church of ancient Rome.

St Luke's Anglican Toowoomba
St Luke's Anglican Church, operative bell tower & Roman eagle.

St Luke's school room was the first building on the site in 1857, prior to the town being named 'Toowoomba'. It was the first centre of Anglican worship in the area. It was replaced by the present church in 1897.

St Luke's Anglican Church still operates a bell tower. A memorial plaque to parish members who fought and died in WWI and WWII adorns an external wall. To one side, a large area of the grounds is devoted to a labyrinth. Visitors are invited to 'walk the labyrinth' in whatever fashion appeals to them. The purpose being to meditate on a scripture of your choice or to say a prayer. Once you reach the centre of the maze you are encouraged to rest and then retrace your steps, mulling over the things that have come to mind. It is recommended that the path be walked at a leisurely pace as many have remarked that they wished they had walked more slowly.

Labyrinth St Luke's Anglican
Walk the labyrinth at St Luke's Anglican church.

The Celtic carols made for a different style of service. Celtic drums are usually included in performances, though not on this occasion. Whatever Aisling perform next year, you can be certain that audiences will receive a unique musical experience.
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Why? Christmas carols with a Celtic flavour
When: 2:30pm
Where: St Luke's Anglican, cnr 152 Herries & Ruthven Streets.
Cost: Free
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