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 programme of choral study.
Be all Merry is one of three new pieces especially composed for the Choral Scholars. This lively carol for choir, orchestra and violin by Irish composer Eoghan Desmond evokes the joyful play of Christmas in the lines ‘Be all merry in this house/Exultet celum laudibus!’. The recording contains a remarkable setting of the Advent plainsong hymn Christe Redemptor Omnium for tenor solo, chorus, violin and violoncello by Ivo Antognini, crafted for Choral Scholars with the kind support of the Swiss Embassy in Dublin. The Adoration of the Magi by American composer Timothy Stephens is a breathtaking setting of W. B. Yeats’ poetry. A beautiful Irish-language lullaby – Cró na Nollag – set by father and son, Adhamhnán and Uinseann Mac Domhnaill, and the much-loved Scottish tune simply titled Suantraí, are also included. The Irish Chamber Orchestra are also featured on a number of tracks including The Wexford Carol and Carol of the Bells. The choir closes the album with the song most associated with friendship, hope and the promise of a new year, Auld Lang Syne.
The post-production phase of this recording project took place as the world grappled with the outbreak of COVID-19. American composer Linda Kachelmeier’s piece – We Toast the Days – serves as a reminder of the strength, love and hope that resonates throughout the world not simply at Christmastide but also during periods of hardship.
BBC Music Magazine Christmas 2020
No fewer than half the choir’s two-dozen members step out for solos, revealing the in-depth quality of Earley’s singers. The glowing tonal blend that he elicits is a constant pleasure, and there’s a real emotional connection in the performances. *****