The word Carol once meant to dance in a ring and as such came into use to describe song that is also religious in impulse, not necessarily connected with Christmas. Evidence of these origins can be seen from Gaudete (meaning Rejoice) to Tomorrow shall be my dancing day, each contribution through the ages revealing its views of the majesty and beauty of the story of Christmas. Britten’s Ceremony of Carols forms the central part of this recording binding together strands of modern thinking, ancient melody (plainsong from the Vespers of the Nativity) and folksong through the old modes. Additionally, through Baroque and Victorian music, we discover that the very concept of Christmas undergoes constant reinterpretation and that this is reflected in the music of the time. It is hoped that the listener will find something new or revealing in this recording and that they will rejoice at Christmastide.
Clifton Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton. It was consecrated on June 29th 1973 and is remarkable for its hexagonal design using glass and white concrete for its construction. It can seat 1200 people gathered around a central altar. Of particular note are the Stations of the Cross which are low relief sculptures in faircrete designed and executed by William Mitchell, giving them a tactile dimension as well as one which is visual.
Clifton Cathedral Choir sings Solemn Mass every week on Sunday and for holy days. It is known throughout the United Kingdom for its wide repertoire from the 14th century to the present day. It is one of the few choirs to have broadcast on BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as on BBC1 and ITV. The choir has made several recordings, gives regular concerts around the South West of England and has toured Thailand, India, France, Switzerland and Italy.
The Rieger Organ is by Rieger Orgelbau of Schwarzach, Austria. It has balanced tracker action and is one of the finest examples of classical voicing. It is situated in the building so that it plays into the more reverberant space of the Sanctuary as well as projecting towards the nave.