Posts Tagged ‘harp’

An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

December 16, 2013

Christmas begins today with An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings
Moya Brennan
Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning and Wendy Goodwin

Aisling Jarvis, Moya Brennan, Cormac De Barra in Echoes Living Room

Aisling Jarvis, Moya Brennan, Cormac De Barra in Echoes Living Room

I don’t know how Celtic music came to signify winter, but  slow aires and Celtic harps seem to exemplify a quieter and more atmospheric side of the Winter season.  We’ve dipped into that sound on Sonic Seasonings several times over the years and we’re doing it again.

Last week we recorded our seasonal live performance show, recording two concerts in 24 hours on opposite coasts.  You can hear them tonight on an Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.

IrishChristmasThis year we have two artists returning.  On Monday afternoon, December 9, with fresh fallen snow on the ground, Moya Brennan came to the Echoes living room with her long time partner, harpist Cormac De Barra and her daughter Aisling Jarvis.  In a testament to time, I first interviewed Moya backstage at the TLA Theater in Philadelphia in 1993 when she was pregnant with Aisling.  And at the time, Moya spelled her name Máire Ní Bhraonáin.

Moya is acclaimed as the singer of Clannad, the Irish band that was part of the Celtic renaissance that began in the 1970s.  That band reformed this year for the album, Nadur, but Moya has been solo for the last 15 years.  This past year she released the album, Affinity with Cormac De Barra under the banner of Voices & Harps.  She also re-released her album, An Irish Christmas with bonus tracks.  We’ll hear this trio in a weave of harp strings and heart-rending harmonies when they play live on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.

Jeff Johnson, Wendy Goodwin, Brian Dunning recording Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

Jeff Johnson, Wendy Goodwin, Brian Dunning recording Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

Immediately following Moya’s show in our southeastern Pennsylvania living room, Jeff Towne and I hopped on a flight to Seattle and the next day, December 10, we were in the home studio of keyboardist Jeff Johnson where he’d gathered his Celtic trio of flutist Brian Dunning and violinist Wendy Goodwin.
Jeff Johnson is a veteran of Celtic cross-over and devotional albums with dozens of CDs out on his own Ark Music label as well as Windham Hill and Hearts of Space Records.  Brian Dunning has been with him on many of those

Goodwin, Johnson, Dunning, Diliberto

Goodwin, Johnson, Dunning, Diliberto

recordings.  He has a connection to the early Celtic renaisance as a member of the band Nightnoise which included guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and his sister, singer and keyboardist Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill.  Mícheál, who died in 2006 had been a member of the legendary and influential Bothy Band.  They are joined by Portland-based violinist Wendy Goodwin who released her solo debut, Place of Refuge last year. Collectively, the trio released a gorgeous CD, of pastoral, ambient winter chamber works called Winterfold this past fall and it’s in the Echoes Top 25 for 2013
WinterfoldThe trio crammed into Johnson’s studio and played beautiful arrangements of music from this album and drew from tracks that have appeared on Johnson & Dunning’s A Quiet Knowing albums and a few Windham Hill collections.

So sit back tonight and enjoy the best Christmas music you’ll hear this year; a sound that will take you out of the shopping malls and into your heart on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings

John Diliberto (((echoes)))


FoundJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club now and you can put David Helping and Jon Jenkins’ Found under somebodies Christmas tree.  It’s our December  CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.



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20 Icons of Echoes #4: Loreena McKennitt

January 14, 2010

Five Essential Loreena McKennitt CDs

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How much do Echoes listeners love Loreena McKennitt?
They voted not one, but two of her CDs into our list of 200 CDs for 20 Years of Echoes.  And they were #1 and #2.   Her Christmas CD, A Midwinter Night’s Dream, was voted as their number one disc of The Best of Echoes 2009.  Finally they made  Loreena McKennitt their fourth selection for 20 Icons of Echoes.  She began recording in 1985, but it was her 1991 album, The Visit that introduced her to Echoes. She’s been a major part of the show ever since with live performances and interviews and her music was one of the defining sounds of the world fusion played on the show.  We’ll be featuring Loreena McKennitt tonight 01/14/2010, on Echoes with a thorough profile and interview.  She’s only released seven studio albums in 25 years, along with three live recordings.  Here are the five that should be in your collection.

5 Essential Loreena McKennitt CDs

#1 The Mask and Mirror
Loreena McKennitt started out as a Celtic Diva, but she made a radical shift with The Mask and Mirror, a CD that explored Middle Eastern and Moroccan themes and had more dumbek than bodhran, more oud than harp.  In fact, her signature instrument barely appears on a CD that creates a darkly hued landscape of cinematic dimensions.  “The Mystics Dream”  with it’s gothic choirs and churning slow camel lurch has been a favorite in film trailers for years.  The Mask and Mirror is a nearly perfect album as McKennitt revels in the sensuality, mysticism and romance of her caravan journey.

#2 The Visit
This was the first Loreena McKennitt album I heard and I was immediately entranced by her mix of Celtic themes and Indian overtones.  The Visit is a turning point CD for McKennitt as she expanded on her Celtic themes and began finding a new, almost mythical sound.  “All Soul’s Night” is a dramatic rendering of Celtic myth and “The Lady of Shallott” revealed her penchant for the epic tale.  “Cymbeline” may be the most serene track she’s ever composed.

#3 The Book of Secrets
This was the follow up to The Mask and Mirror and it picks up on many of the same Middle Eastern themes.  Again there are epic stories like “The Highwayman”, gorgeous instrumentals like “La Serenissima” and on this album, the closest McKennitt has come to a hit, “The Mummer’s Dance.” A remix of the song got up to #18 on Billboard’s Hot 100. This is one of the more Celtic songs on the album, mixing hurdy gurdy with Middle Eastern percussion from Hossam Ramzy and the earthy bass of Danny Thompson.

#4 An Ancient Muse
It was nearly a decade between studio albums, but you’d never know they way McKennitt picked up the caravan exactly where she got off on The Book of Secrets with her mystical journey through Middle Eastern and northern Saharan cultures.  You’ll find the same kind of album opening incantation that she used on the previous two CDs,  calling out in a wordless voice across an echoing space, cleansing the air and the mind.   What follows is a lot like those albums as well, a pan-global excursion centered on Middle Eastern themes and instruments cast into a dramatic exotica.   Taken as a group, An Ancient Muse sounds like a bit of a retread, but on its own, it’s as compelling as any of McKennitt’s other CDs.

#5 Parallel Dreams
This is not Loreena at her most Celtic.  That would be her first CD, Elemental which is mostly traditional songs sung by Loreena and played on harp.  But Parallel Dreams is the album where she realized she was an artist and all that entails.  She wrote much of the music herself, including songs like “Huron Beltane Fire Dance” which presages the moods and grooves of “The Mystics Dream.”  Although not as elaborately produced as her later CDs, Parallel Dreams, shows McKennitt stretching the concept of Celtic music and getting read to move on to grander themes.  The other records are epic, but this may be her most charming outing.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

200 CDs for 20 Years of Echoes

20 Icons of Echoes

The Best of Echoes 2009

Andreas Vollenweider Announces New CD: AIR

February 26, 2009

After an absence of a couple of years, Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider has announced his return with a new CD call Air. Not much info yet on release dates. But Andreas has a very charming video up on his site.

Andreas Vollenweider at Echoes

Andreas Vollenweider at Echoes

Here’s the press release:

We are very exited to present to you AIR, a very special new album with a very special history; it came as a surprise, even for Andreas himself! For 2008/9 he had planned to take time off to focus on other projects than music.

Andreas: “I actually was going to make room for my passion for storytelling and I was already in the midst of an intense writing process, when suddenly an unbridled desire to play music was rising. So I ended up writing during the day and at night I went to my studio, to completely lose myself in the playing, for hours, very much the same way as in the very beginning, no strategy, no concrete purpose, no plan. After some time it became very obvious; something wanted to come out and I should follow its ‘calling’. I love the line ‘man makes plans for the amusement of the gods…’, how true this many times is ;-)”.

Andreas began to call his friends and invited them for a spontaneous gathering in his studio… and in less than two weeks AIR was recorded.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter Echoes Concert Video

October 9, 2008

We just got back from an amazing set of Echoes Living Room Concert recordings in Los Angeles. We set up camp at the studios of Broken Wave Music and in three days we had five acts come in to record 6 concerts and 3 interviews.  The artists were Suzanne Teng & Mystic Journey, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter, Fernwood, David Pritchard and Alu. The first up of these concerts ran Wednesday night with Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter. Lisa has posted a nice blog about it.  She also has about 5 minutes of video footage. The sound isn’t as great as what you’ll hear on the Echoes rendition since it’s just a video camera microphone, and I hate seeing myself on film, but there’s some fun behind the scenes talk, performances and more.

The next concert will be on October 15 with Suzanne Teng and Mystic Journey, followed by Alu on October 20.  Check your local Echoes station for specific broadcast dates and times.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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