Celtic Woman’s 10th Anniversary, 80-city North American tour made one of its stops at Purdue’s Elliot Hall of Music on Oct. 3 following their shows in Evansville and Muncie. The all female, Irish singing ensemble was created by the musical directors of Riverdance back in 2004. The original group consisted of four female singers and a fiddler but has grown to include a 15-castmember ensemble with band and backup dancers and singers. While the group’s lineup has changed over the years to consist of Susan McFadden, Mairead Carlin, Eabha McMahon and the original fiddler, Mairead Nesbitt, they have maintained their sound and feel from their earlier days.
What is most impressive about Celtic Woman is while the three principal singers and fiddler are still the focal point and foundation of the group, they have created a sense of community among the supporting musicians and dancers. The group has developed a sense of sharing the spotlight to allow for each artist to present their talent and grace to the audience that sense of unity and tradition. The women not only extended the limelight to those on the stage, they extended the opportunity to the audience to singing along to popular songs and invited them into their community.
The rhythmic drums, the sprightly footed dancers and formal gowns worn by the women added to the show that gave this small Indiana town a sense of old Ireland. However the show also provided an upbeat, modern sound backed up by a driving group of percussionists and Uillean bagpipes.
Plainly said, this show was one to be seen and remembered. The tour features a career-spanning set encompassing such Irish classics as Mo Ghile Mhear, and an a capella version of “Danny Boy” alongside contemporary compositions like Scarborough Fair and You Raise Me Up” and an a capella version of “Over the Rainbow. At the announcement of the classical, Celtic Woman favorite song, “You Raise Me Up”, the energy and anticipation from the crowd was palpable and an obvious crowd-pleaser when the song ended with a full-house standing ovation.
McFadden, Carlin and McMahon’s voices were clearly showcased in this song with their wide-ranging octaves and soft yet full-bodied sounds went together like a perfect cocktail. The energy, the exuberance, and the gracefulness of the group was rewarded by the audience with a long, loud standing ovation following the final song. Carlin and the other Celtic Women held up to the inspiration of “singing yourself to where the singing comes from.