In a unique and spectacular show, 50 women singers from Belfast’s Féile Women’s Community Choir will be joining the acclaimed Wonders of the Wake band at the Lyric Theatre on March 14th/15th for a massed keening lament event live on stage to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the Irish Wake.
Traditional keening has not been heard in Ireland for over century. But in a unique collaboration between the Wonders of the Wake band, composed of the Donegal-born Henry Girls, Belfast singer Niamh Parsons, and BAFTA-winner Kevin Toolis, the Féile Woman’s Community Choir will join them on stage for a unique and powerful musical St Patrick’s Day spectacular.
‘Keening, traditional laments at funerals, is as old as the fall of Troy and was once common at all Irish funerals. Keening has always had an immense emotional power, music that comes directly from the soul of women. My great grandmother on Achill Island in Mayo was a keener,’ says Wonders of the Wake writer/performer Kevin Toolis.
‘But I never thought I would ever be able to hear such traditional keening in my lifetime. But thanks to Féile Women’s Community Choir we are all going to be able again to hear what is the oldest music of humanity at the Lyric in Belfast.’
Clare Galway, the Féile Choir Leader, is also composing original keening music for the show says:’Composing new music for a show that is dedicated to celebrating the ancient rite of the Irish Wake has also been a great artistic opportunity to bring something unique to the audience .When you hear the sound of over fifty women keening and howling it’s incredible, stunning. The hairs really do stand out on the back of your neck.’
Clare Galway, Féile Community Choir Composer
The Wonders of the Wake is a unique celebration of one of the oldest rites of humanity, the Irish Wake, in song, music, bardic poetry and story-telling.
Artistically, Wonders of the Wake is collaboration between the beloved Belfast singer Niamh Parsons, the world renowned harpist Joleen McLaughlin and her sisters Karen and Lorna McLaughlin of the Henry Girls and the BAFTA winning writer Kevin Toolis. Wonders of the Wake is based on Kevin‘s bestselling book My Fathers’ Wake: How the Irish Teach us to Live, Love and Die.
Kevin Toolis, Wonders of Wake bardic poet performer