An Irish Tradition
The Celtic Women is a group of classically and traditionally trained Irish women musicians. The group has been around for about twelve years now. The current artists are Máiréad Carlin, Susan McFadden, Éabha McMahon, and Tara McNeill.
All the women are exceptionally trained in voice and performance. They’ve been performing from a young age and pursuing music their whole lives. It’s incredible to experience that kind of dedication and it shows in their impeccable harmonies and solo performances during their Home for Christmas tour.
Mixing Irish and Christmas Music
This concert is a balance of both traditional Christmas carols and music from their albums. You’ll hear the classics like Deck the Halls, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Let It Snow as well as their album music like My Gallant Star and Auld Lang Syne. Both the first half and the second act open with Christmas carol melodies played by the accompanying symphony. The women come out to join the symphony and sing carols together. They then break off and do solo performances on their own.
In the first act Mcfadden, who has a musical theatre background, does a version of The Christmas Song fit for any theatre stage. McMahon, a native Irish speaker, performs Oíche Chiúin or Silent Night with a soft, lullaby-esque tenor. Carlin has a surprising addition of bagpipes to her We Three Kings. And McNeill was an absolute delight to watch moving and twirling onstage with her solo violin performance.
After a brief interval the second act follows the same suit - carols, Irish tunes, group, and solo performances. The Carol of the Bells and My Heart Will Go On were the standouts in this act. All the women seemed to come alive during these songs with their movement and facial expressions. My Heart Will Go On even struck a cord that queen Celine Dion hits every time I listen to her original version. The only critique of their show was their sound board desperately needed to turn their microphones up. There were times when the music swelled and drowned the women out completely when their voices should have been the stars of the show.
The Little Extras
Nevertheless, the best parts about the show are when the women sing in their native tongue and songs that are personal to them. You won’t be leaving an Irish concert without hearing the Second Irish National Anthem, Danny Boy, as well as the group’s personal favorite, You Raise Me Up. So while this is a Christmas concert, it was fantastic to have some of the group’s non-Christmas music in the show as well.
Along with the music and voices of the Celtic Women, there are added touches in the show that make their concert come together. Their dresses are spectacular and very distinct to each of their personalities. The lighting effects are also nice and complimentary. Sometimes lighting can distract from the show, but these were nicely done and not too overwhelming
Overall, The Celtic Women Home for Christmas show is perfect for anyone who wants a mix of Irish heritage mixed with the holiday spirit. Recommended.
Sunday December 18
310 E. Benton
Tickets can be purchased at the North Central Fine Arts website https://finearts.northcentralcollege.edu/
More information on the symphony tour can be found here: https://www.celticwoman.com/tour-dates
Images courtesy of North Central College.