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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain'
Artist - Apollo's Fire / Jeannette Sorrell

For those not in the classical know, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra known as Apollo's Fire is a popular and critically acclaimed period-instrument ensemble specializing in early music based in Cleveland, Ohio.

The ensemble unites a select pool of early music specialists from throughout North America and Europe.

Jeannette Sorrell is an American conductor and harpsichordist and the founder and musical director of Apollo's Fire.

Following the release of the award-winning Sugarloaf Mountain: An Appalachian Gathering, which was a Top 5 Billboard Classical Crossover hit, Jeannette Sorrell and Apollos Fire present Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain.

1. 'Christmas Eve at the Crossroads'
2. 'Celtic Memories: Christmas Eve in Old Ireland'
3. 'Caroling Across the Waters'
4. 'Christmas Morning in Appalachia'
5. 'Wanderers Under the Sky'
6. 'Christmas Barn Dance'

In this celebration of the American immigrant experience, fiddlers, medieval harp, hammered dulcimer, bagpipes and singers join with children's voices to evoke the Celtic roots of an Appalachian Christmas.

From Christmas Eve in medieval Scotland to folk carols and shape-note hymns at a toe-tapping Christmas gathering in Virginia, Apollos Fire follows the journeys of the Irish and Scottish settlers who bravely crossed the Atlantic, settled in the mountains and welcomed Christmas with love, singing, dancing and prayer.

Admittedly, I don't usually listen to Christmas albums before Thanksgiving, but given what I do for a living, that's sometimes out of my hands, of course.

So, Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain was opened and put on ... and thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish! The opening, breezy fiddle extravaganza 'Christmas Eve at the Crossroads' (with it's three pieces) was a pure delight to hear and that was backed seamlessly by both 'Celtic Memories: Christmas Eve in Old Ireland' and 'Caroling Across the Waters.'

The former is a rather delightful 6-piece act that begins with the stern 'The Truth Sent from Above,' but quickly parlays into the picturesque 'Sheep Under the Snow.' The latter is a two-piece work that brings different wood instruments to the fore, including a beautiful young choir on my favorite of the works, 'Yorkshire Carol.'

The next chapter is 'Christmas Morning in Appalachia,' a beautiful 5-piece act that embraces all that we would wish to hear on a crisp Christmas morning. 'Wanderers Under the Sky' is the shortest of the chapters, and features some haunting solo vocals combined with some stirring string work, before this festive album rounds out with the vibrant two-piece, 'Christmas Barn Dance.'

The stunning bonus track 'The Parting Glass' rounds out the album perfectly, giving the album a sense of accomplished purpose for those that wish to play it come their very own Christmas morning.

Amazon CD Purchase Link