Celtic performance celebrates all Irish

By  Ann Chazhoor, Youth Speak News
  • December 18, 2009
{mosimage}BRAMPTON, Ont. - Nearly 200 people gathered inside St. Marguerite D’Youville parish Dec. 11 to witness and enjoy otherworldly performances by many of Canada’s best musicians and musical directors, including Juno-nominated Loretto Reid.

An ensemble of nine vocalists and six instrumentalists, mostly between the ages of 24-35, mixed traditional Celtic songs with contemporary Christmas carols on this evening, and again at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto Dec. 12.

“Music is a direct line to the divine for all of us…. The first goal is to transport people and to allow the audience to have that direct communication with the divine,” said Karen D’Aoust, director and founder of the Irish Choral Society.

D’Aoust co-ordinated the concerts with Matthew Otto, a student at the University of Toronto and the director of music at Newman. D’Aoust has worked closely with Otto for a number of years, celebrating Irish culture and faith.

Fr. Pat O’Dea’s invitation to perform at his parish in Brampton had come as a surprise. Originally they planned to do only one show at the Newman Centre. O’Dea, the former director of the Newman Centre, wanted to share the concert with his parish.

St. Marguerite d’Youville Church was transformed into a time-travelling machine, taking eager attendees to a place where God could be found in traditional music.

“I think a lot of people are drawn to sacred Celtic music because it has a very specific ability to transport the performer and also the listener into that divine space and brings them out of the ordinary,” said Otto.

The ensemble is not only unique in its sound, but also for the liveliness brought by its young members.

“What motivates me to be part of the ensemble is the incredible spirit, talent and dedication of all of the members,” said Suzanne Maziarz, a vocalist for the ensemble.

“I (had) the opportunity to work with (the ensemble) in the past and I was thrilled to be invited to collaborate on this project. Knowing that the ensemble consisted of people from a variety of faith backgrounds who were still able to join in the spirit of peace and love for Christmas time is beautiful. I believe we are offering a message of hope and togetherness.”

Togetherness and unity could be found throughout the performance.

“This music is not only cross-denominational… but it is very multicultural,” Otto said.

Singing songs in six different languages, including Latin and Gaelic, they are able to unify many different cultures and appeal to all kinds of audiences, he said, making the concert culturally rich.

The audience gained a historical look into Irish culture and music of the songs through the concert’s host, Dr. David Wilson, a professor of Celtic Studies at the University of Toronto.

Many of the vocalists and the instrumentalists also support the Irish Summer School, where students are able to learn about their Irish culture through dance, music, pottery, art and much more. In addition to supporting the Irish Summer School, the ensemble also wanted to raise awareness about Irish culture advocate, Maurine Mulvey, whom they credit as being a catalyst for Irish celebrations as well as the founder of the summer school.

Audience members were impressed.

“The music reminded me of an old-fashioned Christmas… and of a simpler time,” said Enza Lamberti.

(Chazhoor, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Turner Fenton Secondary School in Brampton, Ont.)

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