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Christmas Memories

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Album Review

Irish vocal ensemble Anúna was founded by Michael McGlynn in 1987 and has gone on to flourish in a variety of settings and genres, including a featured role in the soundtrack of Riverdance; work with Elvis Costello, Sting, Sinéad O'Connor, and the Chieftains, and performances of traditional Celtic music and contemporary classical repertoire. The group's Christmas album is based on a stage show, Christmas Memories, produced by Maryland Public Television. McGlynn's arrangements are intriguingly unconventional in their avoidance of traditional harmonizations, and are often effective. The most persuasive songs are the ones presented most simply, many of which are a cappella or have the most circumspect accompaniment: "The First Noël," "O Holy Night," "Noël Nouvelet," "Gaudete," and McGlynn's own "Angels Are Singing," and his especially lovely "Codail A Linbh." On these tracks it's possible to recognize the first-rate choral ensemble known for the purity and soulfulness of its singing. Many of the songs feature soloists, all of whom have pleasant, natural voices, with the ensemble singing backup. There are enough warmly satisfying performances here to make it worth it for fans of the group.


Formed: 1987 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Irish composer and choral director Michael McGlynn formed the chamber choir Anúna in Dublin in 1987 with the intent that it would unite the discipline of classical choral singing with the unaffected spontaneity typical of Irish folksinging. Until 1991 the group was named An Uaithne, which comes from the collective term for three types of traditional Irish song: lullaby, happy song, and lament. Its earliest repertoire was made up primarily of music from the 11th through the 16th centuries, but it...
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Christmas Memories, Anúna
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