The women of Celtic Cara, Sharon Kilistoff (left), Kim Clarke, Charity Van Gameren, Shileen Whibley, Mary-Ann Reid, Jenae Van Gameren, Sarah Shaw, Trina Devine, Samantha Jahnig and Carla Leder, will be dressed to the nines in their colourful ball gowns, some handmade, when they take the stage at Vernon’s All Saints Anglican Church March 11. Image submitted

The women of Celtic Cara, Sharon Kilistoff (left), Kim Clarke, Charity Van Gameren, Shileen Whibley, Mary-Ann Reid, Jenae Van Gameren, Sarah Shaw, Trina Devine, Samantha Jahnig and Carla Leder, will be dressed to the nines in their colourful ball gowns, some handmade, when they take the stage at Vernon’s All Saints Anglican Church March 11. Image submitted

Journey to the heartland with Celtic Cara

Choir brings emotional mix of traditional and contemporary music to inaugural concert in Vernon

A swell develops in the chest as the women’s voices rise up to the rafters.

“May the road rise up to meet you,” they sing the Irish blessing in unison –a rich blend of soprano and alto voices– “May the wind be always at you back…”

The 10-voice, all-female ensemble Celtic Cara brings an emotional mix of traditional and contemporary Celtic music to their inaugural concert, Journey to the Heartland, when they perform at Vernon’s All Saints Anglican Church March 11.

“It’s a coincidence that our debut performance is wedged in between International Women’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. We couldn’t have picked a better date,” laughed choir member Charity Van Gameren, a local performing arts school owner and vocal teacher, whose daughter Jenae also sings in the choir.

Named after the Gaelic word for friendship, Celtic Cara was started last summer by Van Gameren and local choir leader Terry Logan.

“We have a great love of Celtic music and I’d say we are more of a ladies ensemble than a Celtic women’s choir,” said Van Gameren.

The choir is comprised of multi-generations. Besides mother and daughter, some of the women were at one time taught by Logan, who also currently conducts the 100-voice Vernon Community Singers and directs the 16-voice, all-female ensemble Ancora.

“This has been a joy for me. We have three generations here. Half of the members in this choir were my students at one time, and now their kids are also in the choir,” said Logan. “The women have bonded so quickly, and you have to do that to perform this music. You have to trust and support each other.”

Sharon Kilistoff, whose voice will be heard in a number of solos, as well as both the Van Gamerens studied with Logan, while fellow choir member Sammy Jahnig (née Harper) studied voice and musical theatre with Charity.

“It’s beautiful because I was the first to finish my ARCT (Associate of the Royal Conservatory) degree with Terry, and now Jenae just completed her degree while studying with Terry,” said Charity.

All the Celtic Cara women share a love for harmony and the blend of Irish-Scottish and Canadian-Maritime music they sing.

“Celtic music has such a good story. It carries from generation to generation and is often sad and poignant,” said Charity. “When you hear a song such as Danny Boy, it speaks to the heart.”

“People also love hearing songs they know,” added Logan.

To that end, Celtic Cara has a diverse repertoire, from Sting’s Fields of Gold (off his 1993 album, Ten Summoner’s Tales) and Riverdance’s Home and the Heartland, to the hymn Amazing Grace and Newfoundland folk song I’s the B’y.

What also makes their upcoming show unique will be the accompaniment of traditional instrumentation. Local school teacher Jenn Britton will accompany the singers on piano, while harpist Elizabeth Johnson, fiddler Chloe Davidson, and Ann Dorval, on penny whistle, bodhrán and spoons, will also perform.

Celtic Cara’s Journey to the Heartland takes place at All Saints, 3205 27th St., Vernon, March 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, available at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469,

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