Christmas Carols & Songs. (First Released 2002, Re-Released 2015)
 
Reviewer Tom Lennie prophetically wrote in 2002, for his review of the IKOS recording: "This album is a gem of a production, and is set to become an annual delight in many a household." His words have indeed come true.
 
Christmas Carols and Songs is an inspirational festive blend of traditional carols and songs, sung and performed by some of the UK's best known and respected session musicians. A unique band who came together for the recording project, with the addition of soloists, string orchestra and featuring the boys and girls choirs of Peterborough Cathedral. This is the first time that the two choirs, with their differing tonal characteristics, have been recorded together. The recording draws from the original folk roots of many of our well-known carols; it unites contemporary and traditional instrumentalists, choirs and singers in a celebration of the true message of Christmas.
 
The stunningly produced CD booklet contains a history of the development of Christmas Carols, as well as notes and descriptions of the origins and folk roots of the carols and songs. The beautiful paintings featured in the booklet artwork are by Charlie Mackesy.
 
"My favourite Christmas album of all time." - Dominic Wheeler. Head Of Opera Studies, Royal College of Music, London. 
 
 
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
 
There is something very special about Christmas carols. Their melodies and words, which sing of the joy and mystery of the birth of Jesus, can warm the heart, inspire the mind and lift the spirit. Perhaps it is because they are so closely associated with the coming festivities and celebrations – but maybe it is also because Christmas Carols have always been the people's music.
 
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 sang 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 the surrounding events.
 
The Medieval desire to free the Christmas story from the control of the church liturgy can be heard in many popular carols and ballads, integrating the Christmas story with everyday experiences of ordinary people. Such religious folksongs flourished in England until the Puritanism of the 17th Century attempted to suppress them. It was only partially successful; carols were sung less widely in public, but in small gatherings they remained popular, and in the 18th and 19th Century they enjoyed a revival.
 
At Christmas time in parts of the Midlands, and in some of the taverns near Sheffield, people still gather to play and sing Christmas carols and songs - a tradition which survives from the time when they were banned from being sung in the churches. The 1800's saw a great renewal in carol writing, and churches once again began to include carols in the Christmas services, helping to popularise new compositions.
 
Christmas music will always evolve and change as each generation seeks to capture in song the deep and wonderful mystery of Jesus' birth, and His message of love, joy, forgiveness, grace, peace and redemption for each precious life in our troubled world.
 
The 1928 edition of The Oxford Book of Carols states, "Carols, moreover, were always modern, expressing the manner in which ordinary people at their best understood the ideas of their age, and bringing traditional conservative religion up to date... the carol, in fact, by forsaking the timeless contemplative melodies of the Church, began the era of modern music, which has throughout been based upon the dance".
 
This recording draws from the original 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:
"Peace on earth and goodwill to all people".

 

1. O Little Town Of Bethlehem (5:02)
2. O Come O Come Emmanuel (4:25)
3. Silent Night (4:59)
4. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (5:01)
5. Bethlehem Down (4:19)
6. The Gloucestershire Wassail (2:09)
7. Away In A Manger (3:40)
8. For Unto Us A Child Is Born (4:16)
9. Rejoice And Be Merry (2:53)
10. Of The Father's Love Begotten (2:17)
11. How Far Is It To Bethlehem (2:59)
12. In The Bleak Mid~Winter (4:08)
13. Lullaby (Suo Gan) (3:19)
14. The Holy Child (2:37)
 

 

IKOS are:
 
David Clifton - Vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, mandola, arrangements
Mark Russell - Keyboards, string and choir arrangements
Dudley Phillips - Bass guitar, double bass
Steve Creese - Drums and percussion
Terl Bryant - Percussion
 
The Choirs of Peterborough Cathedral
Master of the Music - Christopher Gower
Organist - Oliver Waterer
 
Accompanying Musicians:
 
Jane Siberry, Lizzie Deane - Guest vocals and harmonies
Greg Miner - Irish harp
Paul Twelftree - Flugelhorn
Mike Haughton - Alto saxophone and recorder
Simon Russell - Bass guitar (Silent Night)
 
The London Telefilmonic Orchestra:
 
1st Violins - Richard Studt, Hilary Sturt, Levon Chilingrian, David Adams, Levine Andrade
2nd Violins - Jon Morton, Fran Andrade, Ian Humphries, Catherine Leonard
Violas - Louise Williams, Jon Thorne
Cellos - Nick Holland, Lionel Handy, Jo Garcia
 
Produced and arranged by: Mark Russell and David Clifton
 
Mixed by: Jon Kelly
 
Recorded at: 
Highbury Studios, London, N5
The Snake Ranch, Lots Road, London SW10
Monkton House Studios, Buckinghamshire
The Mixing Rooms, Chiswick, London W4
Zolis Audio, Toronto, Canada 
Peterborough Cathedral, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
 
Engineers:
 
Gerry O Riordan 
Jim Zolis (Toronto)
Mark Russell 
Jon Kelly
 
Mastered by: Noel Summerville at Transfermation London. 
 
Original Artwork and paintings: Charlie Mackesy 
 
THE PETERBOROUGH CATHEDRAL CHOIRS
 
THE BOYS CHOIR
Jonathan Beck, Benjamin Carroll, Alexander Craig, Thomas Craig (solo), Joseph Fellows, Elliott Fletcher, Ross Gallagher, Edward Grubb, Oliver Hamilton-Box, William Hamilton-Box, John Hanby, Russell Hurcombe, Sam Mannion, Nicholas Martin, Alexander Paine, Dominic Paine, Jack Richardson, Jamie Robertson, Matthew Searles.
 
THE GIRLS CHOIR
Mariam Alipour, Felicity Baines, Louise Clarke, Sarah Cooper, Emily Cunliffe, Alice Cunliffe, Polly Dolby, Lottie Dolby, Helena Giddens, Katherine Hardy, Dawn Herbert (solo), Sara Hughes (descant), Heather Hunt, Jodie Kalina, Jenna Morley, Rachel Malley, Sophie Palmer, Hannah Sandison, Nicola Wiggin.
Head Chorister: Hayley Richardson.
 
LAY CLERKS AND SUPERNUMERARY GENTLEMEN
David Brook, Leslie Crowson, William Hay, Stephen Hamilton-Box, Daniel Lock, Terry Noble, Simon Nurser, Michael Riley, Adrian Wall, Paul Weston, Oliver Winstone.
Senior Lay Clerk: Ben Trenchard
 
ADDITIONAL SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Sony International, The Chapter of Peterborough Cathedral, Christopher Gower, Sam Hill, Charlie Mackesy, Shirley Ferrier, David Fitzgerald, Andy Hutch, Jim Zolis, Matt Hay, Daniel Lock, B&H Ltd., Tim Oliver, Margaret, Mitzi, Bex, Two Tree Visions, Jon and Gerry for service above and beyond the call of duty, The Piercy family, all at Holy Trinity Brompton London, Iqbal and Cathy at IQ Music.
The team at Integrity/Provident Europe. And thanks to the inhabitants of Monkey House!
 
And a special thank-you to the people who first introduced us to hymns, choirs and cathedrals - our parents.