STARS OF FOLK, CLASSICAL AND TRAD MUSIC UNITE TO PRESENT IRELAND’S GREATEST CHRISTMAS MUSIC
Produced by Ethan Johns; Featuring Singers Caitríona O’Leary, Seth Lakeman, John Smith, Clara Sanabras & the Choir Stile Antico with Instrumentalists Alison Balsom, Olov Johansson, Simone Collavecchi and Otherl Musical Celebrities
Regarded as Ireland’s greatest Christmas music illuminating this supreme holiday story, Strange Wonders,The Wexford Carols, Vol. II will be available on Heresy Records (www.heresyrecords.com) on November 12.
When Heresy Records released the first volume of the carols in 2014, the album earned international praise and critical acclaim, soaring to the #1 position on both the Billboard and Amazon charts. THE IRISH TIMES wrote: “The Wexford Carols as they have never been heard before.” The songs on the first Wexford Carols focus on the best-known episodes of the Christmas story. Produced by Joe Henry and featuring Irish singer Caitríona O’Leary, and Grammy award winners Tom Jones, Rosanne Cash and Rhiannon Giddens, the album musically links Irish traditional music with Americana (www.thewexfordcarols.com).
Strange Wonders, The Wexford Carols Vol. II, is an indispensable follow up to the previous album which focused on the best-known episodes of the Christmas story. Strange Wonders, The Wexford Carols, Vol. II takes a different musical approach which explores the carols from a more spiritual and mystical musical approach introducing 11 carols from the tradition that focus on both traditional aspects of the Christmas story: Gabriel’s visitation to Mary, the humble stable, the meeting of Herod and the Magi, the Fall (of Adam and Lucifer), the Mystery of God as Man – as well as less familiar aspects of this narrative including carols to the saints whose feast days fall within the 12 days of Christmas (24th December – 6th January). These includes carols for St. Stephen, St. John, St. Sylvester and the Holy Innocents.
For Strange Wonders, The Wexford Carols Vol. II singer/arranger Caitríona O’Leary and producer Ethan Johns have adopted an intimate interpretation of these remarkable and moving carols that marries early music, folk music and classical styles, bringing together an ensemble of luminaries that include Seth Lakeman (voice, viola), Clara Sanabras (voice, baroque guitar), John Smith (voice, guitar), Stile Antico (Choir), Alison Balsom (trumpet), Olov Johannson (nyckelharapa), Simone Collavechi (lute & renaissance guitar), Deirdre O’Leary (bass clarinet), Mel Mercier (percussion), and John Hearne (bassoon) and Ethan Johns (harmonium).
Backgound Notes on The Wexford Carols II:
In 1684 Luke Waddinge, Bishop of Ferns, Co. Wexford, published A Smale Garland of Pious & Godly Songs in Ghent. Written as a solace for people like him, disinherited Irish Catholic gentry, Waddinge’s poems are set to popular tunes of the day, both Irish & English (because, in spite of politics, a good tune is always a good tune!). The carols became so popular that they were reprinted twice over the next half-century. The singing of these semi-illicit carols from the penal times was given further momentum by Fr. William Devereux who, in 1728, composed A New Garland Containing Songs for Christmas. These two collections, along with the famous Enniscorthy Carol, form the repertoire of a tradition of carol singing in County Wexford, Ireland
The Waddinge and Devereux Garlands are written in English and contain lyrics for twenty-two Christmas songs. Twelve of the carols have been handed down, mouth to ear to mouth, through the generations, and are still sung over the twelve days of Christmas in the parish of Kilmore, Co. Wexford – a beautiful living history. Over the centuries, however, many of the tunes have been lost; only six are still in the traditional repertoire. Caitríona O’Leary’s fascination with the carols led to a long period of research and investigation during which time she discovered many of the lost melodies. This recording introduces another eleven of these most beautiful carols (including a reprise of The Enniscorthy Carol and a different version of The Darkest Midnight) that expand the living tradition.
Ethan Johns, Producer
Dom Monks – Co-Producer
Eric Fraad – Executive Producer
Dom Monks – Recording and Mix Engineer
James Darkin – Mastering Engineer
TRACK LISTING: Total Timing 54:38
- Ye Sons of Men – 4.42
- The Darkest Midnight in December – 7.39
- This Great Mysterie – 2.56
- On Christmas Night All Christians Sing – 3.56
- The Night of the Nativity – 3.08
- St. Stephen had an Angel’s Face – 2.12
- On St. Stephen’s Day – 2.56
- A Carol for St. John’s Day – 10.11
- Hail ye Flow’rs of Martyrs – 8.04
- This Feast of St. Sylvester – 3.49
- The Enniscorthy Christmas Carol – 5.05