WITH support from Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, young Catholic music ensemble Prima Luce began touring with its debut self-titled album in regional New South Wales, Victoria and Canberra this month.
The tour, which started on January 18 and finishes on January 30, is giving people from Albury, Wodonga, Ganmain, and Tumbarumba, an experience of the sacred music and traditional Catholic hymns featured in the album.
Prima Luce, which is Latin for “at first light”, has been performing in Catholic parishes, running workshops for children at a primary school in Albury-Wodonga, and even shared its music at a local Russian Orthodox monastery.
Twenty-six-year-old Brisbane Catholic musician and group leader James Doig co-ordinated Prima Luce’s tour with a special intention to make sacred music accessible to people in regional areas.
“I lived a bit in Tumbarumba and in the Riverina area, and people there don’t have access to concerts like people in the city do,” he said, “but it doesn’t mean they appreciate it less.
“For years now, I’ve dreamed of going back and doing a concert at Tumbarumba, so I was very happy when it was on the list of parishes we were going to visit.”
Over Christmas, Prima Luce performed Christmas carols in parishes across Queensland and New South Wales, with a hope to gain extra support for the tour.
James said funding the tour had been difficult, as it was mostly self-funded by Prima Luce, but he said he was “taking a leap of faith”.
“Catholic parishes we’ve visited … have been very hospitable, and we’ve been very blessed in that way,” he said.
“We’ve also been blessed with a donation from the Archbishop (Mark Coleridge), and some sponsorship from St Pauls Book Centre, Brosnan Golf and Golf Mart, which we are extremely grateful for.”
Despite having initial difficulties with funding, James said his long-term vision was to get musicians involved with Prima Luce on a full-time basis.
“I’m really hoping we can create a vocal ensemble that can turn into a full-time job,” he said.
“In the old days, when people valued music, musicians were sponsored and the Church devoted their time to the arts.
“Now there is no money in this, more so because of a lack of musicians.
“I’d love to challenge people who have a gift for music to actually follow it through, and study it, because we need it. The Church needs good musicians at the moment.”
While the tour was inspired by the production of their self-titled album, James and his fellow musicians said an even greater goal was the potential to “preach through the music”.
“Australia does suffer from poverty, not from a lack of money, but from a lack of beauty, truth and goodness,” he said.
“Artists and musicians have a mission to evangelise through the arts, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this tour.”
James said the true mission for Prima Luce was to rediscover using music as a prayer, a rich Catholic tradition that he believed had been lost.
“What I want to do, and what I struggle to do, and what we all are trying to do together, is learn how to sing God’s praise through music, learning how to sing music with words that express truth, and to learn how to pray those words through music,” he said.
“The music is bigger than us; we’re not singing something and expressing ourselves.
“Some of the saints wrote these hymns, so you can’t help but reflect on what you’re singing.
“The music itself carries a meaning that is beyond what we as individuals can express.”
After the tour, Prima Luce hopes to go back into the studios to work on a Christmas album for release later this year.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.