Week 1: Exploring New Choral Music for the Christmas Season

Week 1: Exploring New Choral Music for the Christmas Season

This week, we explore the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin’s new Christmas holiday album, directed by Dr. Desmond Earley in collaboration with composers from all over the world, including the expansive setting of the Advent plainsong hymn Christe redemptor omnium by Ivo Antognini, crafted for the Choral Scholars with support from the Swiss Embassy to Ireland. Use the world of music to settle yourself into the holiday season.

Festive Recipes from the Kylemore Kitchen

Enjoy the first of three cozy Christmas drink recipes and decadent holiday cooking videos straight from the Kylemore Global Centre’s kitchen with Chef David Harrison! Follow along the video below to learn how to make Christmas Pudding and enjoy it with a Hot Spiced Apple & Gin Drink.

"Be All Merry": A Collaborative Christmas Album

Artistic Director of the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, Dr. Desmond Earley will be joined by Swiss composer Ivo Antognini to discuss their recent collaborative projects. Choral Scholars and Earley recently released their third album titled “Be All Merry” on the Signum Classics label. Recorded days before the lockdown in March 2020 when the outbreak of COVID-19 transformed the world as we know it, this album includes three new pieces written for the Choral Scholars as well as arrangements of traditional Irish, Scottish, and English carols and a number of American songs.

Much of the discussion will be around Antognini’s piece taken from the recent release, “Be All Merry,” and the three pieces specifically written for the Choral Scholars: the title track, by Irish composer Eoghan Desmond; “The Adoration of the Magi” by American composer Timothy Stephens; and, of course, the expansive setting of the Advent plainsong hymn “Christe redemptor omnium” by Antognini, crafted for the Choral Scholars with support from the Swiss Embassy to Ireland. 

“Christe redemptor ominum” was commissioned by the Choral Scholars and first performed in 2018. An ancient plainsong version of the hymn beginning “Jesu, Redemptor omnium” is part of the church’s official liturgical music for Christmas Vespers. Musicians from the Irish Chamber Orchestra joined Choral Scholars for several tracks on the album,

For the discussion, we have chosen to feature three tracks recorded by the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin:

Listen to the full “Be All Merry” album here:

A World of Sounds

The harmonic palette of jazz informs the choral music of Swiss composer, Ivo Antognini. A composer of music for television and film and an artist on three jazz albums, Antognini has directed his creative talents into the composition of choral music since 2006. 

Recent recordings with Antognini’s music include: “Canticum Novum,” a portrait CD featuring the Salt Lake Vocal Artists; “Invisible Stars” and “Perpetual Twilight” (SIGNUM RECORDS), with UCD Choral Scholars; “Sacred Songs of Life & Love” (PENTATONE) with South Dakota Chorale; and “To Bethlehem” (RESONUS) with Kantorei of Kansas City.

Choral Scholars of University College Dublin

The Choral Scholars is an internationally acclaimed chamber choir of gifted student singers led by founding Artistic Director, Dr. Desmond Earley, based at University College Dublin College of Arts & Humanities. Scholars come from various academic disciplines and commit to an intensive program of choral study. Throughout each semester they receive intense vocal coaching, language instruction, and performance-practice studies. 

Since its formation in 1999, the choir has maintained strong links with its family of more than 200 alumni who often return to perform with the ensemble on the national and international concert stage. With a classical focus and an inspiration found in the music and literature of Ireland, the ensemble’s repertoire ranges from contemporary choral music to the re-imagining of Irish traditional song. The Choral Scholars are recognized for their strong national identity, artistic excellence, ambitious vision, a joyful camaraderie and a dynamic, youthful sound. 

“Be All Merry” is their third album on Signum Classics following the hit releases “Invisible Stars” (2015) and “Perpetual Twilight” (2019), featuring a collection of traditional and contemporary choral music from Ireland and Scotland, including new arrangements and compositions by some of Ireland’s most celebrated composers. 

Learn more about The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin on their website.

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Listen to the discussion on the ThinkND podcast here:

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