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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Sacrum Mysterium (A Celtic Christmas Vespers)'
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.

And so, Apollo's Fire and their founder/director Jeannette Sorrell, along with Ensemble La Nef & Sylvain Bergeron, and Meredith Hall (soprano), now present a tapestry of mystical Scottish Gregorian chant, ancient pagan carols, Celtic fiddle tunes & joyous dances featuring highlights from the 13th-century Vespers of St. Kentigern, Patron Saint of Glasgow.

1. Oikan ayns Bethlehem (Manx Gaelic carol)
2. What Child is This? (Irish version)
3. Duan Nollaig (Scottish Gaelic Carol)
4. Wat ye what i got late yestreen (Instrumental)
5. Usheg Veg Ruy (Manx Gaelic lullaby)
6. Christmas Eve (Irish Reel)
7. Taladh Chriosta (Scottish Lullaby)

Long before Christianity took hold in Scotland and Ireland, the ancient Celts celebrated the Winter Solstice and the coming of light and hope. The echoes of Paganism still resounded in the 13th and 14th centuries, when faithful Scots sang the Vespers of St. Kentigern, Patron Saint of Glasgow.

Jeannette Sorrell's new celebration of Celtic artistic traditions interweaves selections from the medieval Vespers of St. Kentigern with ancient pagan carols and popular tunes from 17th-century Welsh and Scottish manuscripts for lute and harp.

Joyous fiddle tunes and Irish dances (complete with foot percussion!) burst forth against the vivid backdrop of the unfolding Christ story. Premiered in six sold-out concerts in Cleveland in 2011, the program evokes the sacred mysteries of a medieval procession in the opening track, "Oikan ains Bethlehem" (The Babe in Bethlehem). The colorful sounds of antiphonal bagpipes, archlute, harp, percussion, fiddles and recorders are blended in musical arrangements by Sylvain Bergeron and Sorrell.

The early-music ensemble La Nef of Montreal joins Apollo's Fire for this international collaboration featuring the radiant Canadian soprano Meredith Hall.

The beauty, artistry and passion these players bring to their music is exquisite. I doubt there is another group in the United States that rises to the standard they have set, and this album will make believers of all who listen.

The genius of Jeanette Sorrell, the founder and director of the group, and the skill which she makes music is simply without peer. In short, Sacrum Mysterium should be in the library of anyone who loves classical Christmas music.

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