Be All Merry / Earley, Choral Scholars of UCD, Irish Chamber Orchestra

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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...

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.


Like the Winchester Quiristers, the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin are unique – a relatively new group of collegiate singers who trade a chapel for an intriguing commercial instinct. Be All Merry is a slick album of new, largely unrecognisable settings of old carols woven through with the sound of Gaelic folk song, much of it from the fiddle of the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s concertmaster. It provides that one thing we badly need from Christmas albums – something different that’s still consistent and festive – and only occasionally edges into processed cheese despite every track being suitable for a TV chat show’s play-out. If you can take a degree of Gaelic mistiness there is plenty to enjoy. The jagged arrangement of the Carol of the Bells by conductor Desmond Earley caught my ear, sung by a choir very well trained with an idea of its own sound.

-- Gramophone

Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 21, 2020

  • UPC: 635212064320

  • Catalog Number: SIGCD643

  • Label: Signum Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: ""

  • Composer: Eoghan Desmond, Elaine Agnew, Timothy Stephens, Andrej Makor, Ivo Antognini, Adhamhnán Mac Domhnaill, Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovitch, Hugh Martin, Linda Kachelmeier

  • Conductor: Desmond Earley

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Irish Chamber Orchestra, Choral Scholars of University College Dublin

  • Performer: The Choral Scholars Of University College Dublin, Earley