Saturday, December 16, 2023


Luminescence Chamber Singers and guests

Luminescence Children’s Choir

Samuel Giddy, organ

Valdas Cameron, percussion

Directed by Roland Peelman

Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest 15 December


Reviewed by Len Power


It was a time-travelling evening of Christmas music from Medieval carols to classic Yuletide songs and traditional Nativity hymns.

Directed by Roland Peelman, the combined forces of Luminescence Chamber Singers and guest artists, the Luminescence Children’s Choir, organist, Samuel Giddy and Valdas Cameron on percussion made this a memorable evening of familiar and not so well-known Christmas music.

The concert commenced dramatically with the Chamber Singers as they entered singing down the aisle of the church, led by Roland Peelman and Valdas Cameron on drums, while Samuel Giddy provided deep resonant tones on the organ. In the gallery above and behind the audience, the Children’s Choir added their voices, producing a sound that galvanised the audience immediately.

Luminescence Children's Choir

They had begun with a 14th century anonymous Spanish song, “Stella Splendens”. It was followed by another song from the same era “Qui creavit celum – Song Of the Nuns Of Chester”, a quietly haunting work beautifully sung, and “Eya Jhesus Hodie” with a 15th century text and music composed in the musical idioms of the 14th century by David Yardley in 2020. Another rousing 14th century song followed, the Bavarian “Verbum Patris humanatur”. It was given a fine performance by the choirs.

The large program of songs included a 16th century work by William Byrd, “Lulla Lullaby”, an arrangement by Ruth McCall of two melodies for “Away In A Manger”, “In The Bleak Midwinter” by Harold Darke from 1911 and “Gabriella’s Song” by Stefan Nilsson from 2004, amongst others.

Roland Peelman and the Luminescence Chamber Singers and guests

Samuel Giddy’s organ performance of “Swiss Carol” by Louis-Claude Daquin from the 18th century was one of the highlights of the concert.

Other highlights included “The Song Of the Birds”, a traditional Catalan song arranged by Roland Peelman, which was hauntingly sung, and the uplifting “Gabriella’s Song” was sung with great feeling by soprano, Rachel Mink.

Rachel Mink

The concert concluded with the classic carols, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night”. The audience was invited to sing with the choirs and the result was an intense feeling of community as the huge sound filled the church, bringing this often spectacular and enjoyable evening of Christmas music to a close.


Photos by Peter Hislop

This review was first published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 16 December 2023.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at