This unique Christmas album has become, as reviewer Tom Lennie predicted, a consistent favourite in many households around the world during the festive season. The choirs of Peterborough Cathedral, full band, the London Telefilmonic Orchestra, solo singers and instrumentalists and some of England’s finest musicians have contributed to this beautiful interpretation of favourite carols. Canadian singer Jane Siberry also brings her unique style to Silent Night and the Polish carol Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.
The album idea and concept grew from new arrangements of traditional carols which David Clifton was developing for Carol services and Christmas events in London, and his long held vision to combine traditional seasonal music with a modern feel was recorded and released under the band name IKOS. This Greek word can be translated as ‘window of light’, chosen because of the depth, mystery and meaning of the historical Christmas message, and the collaborative nature and team effort of the recorded work. It is also the name of a collective, a group of like-minded musicians and artists, some of whom appear on this album. IKOS concerts and events arranged by flautist/saxophonist and founder member Dave Fitzgerald in the past have included some of the core group of artists who appear on this festive recording. The Hammersmith concert saw a guest appearance from Dave Markee on bass guitars, and the IKOS Songs of Praise BBC TV special also featured Joanne Hogg from the Celtic Irish band Iona on vocals, Nick Beggs on Chapman Stick and bass guitar, and Terl Bryant on drums and percussion. The contribution to this recording from the choirs of Peterborough Cathedral, Canadian singer Jane Siberry, and the featured soloists, make this a very special blend of musical styles in this celebration of the Christmas season.
David’s research for the booklet which accompanies the CD gives a brief history of the origin of each carol. Many of our traditional carols are written to popular folk melodies. In the Middle Ages, the singing of church music was restricted to the priests and monks, and the congregation simply listened. In everyday life, however, especially at festivals such as Christmas, people sand of their traditions and faith. Troubadours danced ’round dances’ called ‘caroles’, and bystanders sang, improvising words and tunes. Inspired by saint Francis of Assissi’s Nativity Plays, which began in 1223, the custom spread through Europe. Eventually the word ‘carol’ (from the old French ‘carole’ and the Latin ‘chorula’) came to mean the song rather than the dance, with the subject matter telling of the birth of Jesus and surrounding events.
The beautiful paintings are by London artist Charlie Mackesy, and you can view more of his work and find information about his latest exhibitions at www.charliemackesy.com
This recording draws from the roots of many of our Christmas carols, and unites contemporary and traditional instrumentalists, choirs and singers in a celebration of the true message of Christmas.
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